A whopping $600 million are owing to contractors by the Education Facilities Company Ltd (EFCL), and nobody knows when that debt will be settled.
Members of the new Board of EFCL appeared before the Joint Select Committee on State Enterprises on Friday, but guess what, the legal adviser of the company, Annesa Rahim was missing.
Rahim, the former corporate secretary, again did not appear. At the start of the meeting, David Small, chairman, said the JSC “wrote to her, delivered it (the letter) by hand (for her) to appear, because we believe there are certain matters happening in the EFCL that the corporate secretary would be key to. We made a specific request to have the corporate secretary, still on the payroll of EFCL, to attend this hearing.”
Acting General Manager, Dennis Cox also told the JSC: “We made several attempts to contact the former corporate secretary, current senior legal officer, by telephone, by email, and we also delivered a letter by hand to her home and last afternoon we delivered a letter on behalf of the JSC, which was addressed directly to her and we received no response to this moment. “
Cox said Rahim should have been aware of the invitation to appear before the JSC. He confirmed she was still in possession of an EFCL telephone.
According to Small, “This committee continues to be concerned. It seems that someone is scared of us (in the JSC). We will just like to get some traction with what has been happening with the company.”
Small said “if someone is on the payroll of the company, is in possession of a company-issued phone, is not answering calls, is not responding to emails, I would expect that the board will be taking the necessary action because that is untenable.”
He added: “There is no way that the Parliament can have one of its persons (employees) deliver a letter to your home, by hand, and for some reason you can’t attend or don’t want to. “
Small also questioned Cox on the $550 million in litigation by contractors who were being owed for work done. Small said there exists a recipe for disaster at the EFCL, which was established to construct and repair Government schools.
Cox said many of the claims are being reviewed by the Office of the Attorney General and several others have been determined in the court and were given against the EFCL.
In response to a question from JSC member, Ancil Antoine, Cox admitted the company could be facing claims of more than $600 million from contractors for non-payment and possible suspension of contracts. He said contracts for 94 schools were being suspended. He said the school repair programmes would not be affected by this development, but the construction programme would be affected.
Small also criticised the EFCL for having no records of the past performance of contractors and weak monitoring of contractual obligations for contractors. Those were among the findings of a report conducted this year by Price Waterhouse Coopers.