Ministers told to leave project talks to experts
Government ministers in Barbados and the rest of the region are being told to stop interfering in the negotiating process for major projects.
Vice-president of Castalia Strategic Advisors, Brian Samuel, said too often people throughout the region depended on government ministers to “negotiate” contracts when they should really be depending on the technocrats.
Samuel made the call for ministers to leave the decision making to the experts, as he made a presentation at the CIBC Infrastructure Conference at the Hyatt Regency yesterday. He was speaking on the theme Spotlight On The Potential For Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) In The Caribbean.
Samuel said what governments should do is ensure public servants were adequately trained, define policies and processes and “stick to them”, and create a PPP focal point.
“We start with the best intentions, have all these nice processes, but then we seem to pluck defeat from the jaws of victory . . . . We talk the talk and we have all kinds of systems, but at the end we have back door deals; we have deals done that nobody knows about; we have mystery winners who weren’t bidders in the first place,” charged Samuel, although he declined to identify any particular Caribbean country.
“But when I look throughout the region there is a similarity in all of this. We talk the talk but sometimes the politicians do not follow their own rules. Again, I am not calling any names.
“Why have the ministers negotiating contracts? I have seen ministers negotiating geothermal contracts. What does the minister know that the technicians don’t know? The minister needs to provide the overall guidance.
“The government needs to provide the overall guidance and let the technicians and the technocrats and the people who have done it before get on with it. Don’t interfere. Don’t always want to run the show. Let the technocrats do what they are doing,” he told the room of business leaders.
Over the two days, a number of participants are expected to share their views on PPPs and how they benefit the region.