Ex-minister takes aim at auditors

| 06/10/2015 | 25 Comments
Cayman News Service

Rolston Anglin, former minister of education in the UDP administration

(CNS): The former education minister has refuted allegations made against him over the schools development projects and pointed the finger at fundamental problems with the original high school tenders. In a revealing statement to the Public Accounts Committee in response to a recent report from the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) on the primary schools expansion and the partial development of the high school projects, Rolston Anglin accused the audit office of absurdity, lying, misrepresentation and incompetence, as he defended his actions.

Anglin was the education minister who picked up the high schools project at a time of chaos, when the general contractor, Tom Jones International (TJI), was involved in catalogue of problems with subcontractors and the education ministry. Anglin defended his role and the decision to upgrade five primary schools in a very tight timeline against the backdrop of the high school problems.

In a comprehensive statement to the PAC on Thursday when he was called as a witness, Anglin refuted all of the criticisms in the report by the audit office, entitled ‘Major Capital Project – Building Schools’. He accused the OAG of seeking to find reasons to issue bad reports on “Cayman politicians and by extension Cayman itself”.

In addition to denying the accusations of inappropriate interference and failing to create a proper policy surrounding the way the work was tendered on both projects, the former education minister pointed out that the situation surrounding the high schools was far from business as usual and could not be judged against expectations that were not even law until almost a decade after the secondary school projects were conceived.

He also took aim at the auditor for not interviewing him or the chief officer at the time, Mary Rodrigues, during the audit which fuelled the report and said he had refused to comment on the finished report because it was a corrupted audit process. Although the OAG has said on a number of occasions that it is not in their remit to question ministers as their job is to audit and monitor civil servants’ actions, not elected officials, the office has not explained why the chief officer was not interviewed.

As Anglin addressed the accusations made against him and the overall management of these projects, he denied breaking up the tenders on the primary schools. He said the report misleads the public as the policy of splitting up the work for smaller contractors to address the economic stagnation in the construction sector was on the Clifton Hunter project and not the primary schools projects, which he said were properly tendered to experienced and larger contractors.

He also said that during the PPM administration of 2005-2009, when the current premier was the education minister, the government employed a project manager for the high schools who was hired as a civil servant, yet he lived overseas.

“He was paid like a very expensive consultant,” the former minister said as he revealed that in 20 months he was paid salary of approximately $557,000 and travel expenses of approximately $47,000 for a total of $604,000. But all of this was omitted from the AG’s report, Anglin noted.

In addition to his lengthy statement to PAC (posted below), as the minister answered questions he also revealed a number of issues regarding the original high school contracts that were echoed by other witnesses to the committee.  From the very start the bid which was accepted by the Central Tenders Committee from Tom Jones International Cayman Ltd for the high school projects was regarded as too low, which Anglin implied may have been a direct result of a deliberate attempt in the tender documents to solicit undervalued bids.

Highlighting another major concern, Anglin said that he had he received advice from the attorney general that if TJI had been able to prove that, government would have faced a very difficult legal situation. He said it appeared that bid packages were too low on all three schools due to incorrect information that distorted the estimates.

The former minister noted some of the other problems he inherited and raised questions about the previous administration hiding information from legislators over the mounting problems at the schools.

“Shortly after taking office, the ministry was contacted by a local bank seeking payment for a bridge loan that it had extended to the former general contractor on the high schools projects,” Anglin told the committee, saying that this transaction had been made “under very curious conditions”.

“The previous government entered into a scheme to hide financial transactions from the House and the general public in the run up to the 2009 general elections. The audit office was made aware of this from 2009. The amount was certainly not immaterial; it was CI$10,000,000,” he said.

The issue related to a letter of comfort that the government had given to the bank about its payments to TJI for the schools to enable the contractor to get the credit line it needed to buy material. This was made public, however, during the disputes between TJI and the government during what became a public and acrimonious dispute between the parties and subcontractors soon after the school projects broke ground.

Statement by Rolston Anglin in response to OAG report ‘Major Capital Projects – Building Schools’

OAG Special Analysis of Issues Related to Financing the Building of John Gray High School, 23 September 2009

 

Bill for schools project consultant David Smith 500_compressed

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Category: Government oversight, Politics

Comments (25)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    He is a drunk who showed that he lacked honesty and integrity by his conduct during his various drink driving incidents and other accidents. Wholly unfit for any public office.




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  2. Anonymous says:

    Wow…so part of his argument is ‘before there were laws for right and wrong…’




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  3. Anonymous says:

    I care. But not to hear his jive talk. I wanna know whos is accountable, who will remove their Life Pensions after 1 term, and their mega slaarie$$




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  4. DARKNESS 2 LIGHT says:

    Looks like everybody has skeletons including the Premier who played and continues to play crucial role in the mess Cayman is in today. Interesting how the PPM speak of transparency and value for money … Any wonder why the country is broke and a shell of its former glory?




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    • Anonymous says:

      There was no “former glory”. This is Cayman, not a real country. A place where development is controlled by a Board chaired by the major supplier of construction needs in the country whose appointment, along with many others criticized by the Auditor General for conflict of interest reasons, was renewed. What “former glory” are you referring to? A time when our National Hero personally ran the country and was giving it away to his Texan friends?




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  5. Kman Dun says:

    Plenty blame to go around. The school debacle is just another in a long line of mismanaged government messes.

    Mainly I blame McKeeva Bush for introducing party politics to Cayman. And Kurt Tibbetts for immediately joining the party.




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  6. Anonymous says:

    Circumventing the LA process to hide the bad deals, poorly negotiated contracts and over paying is the legacy of the PPM. This is the genesis for the FFR




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  7. Anonymous says:

    The questioning went like this:

    Rolston “The PPM were bad”.

    PAC: “What about what you did?”

    Rolston “The Auditor General is bad”

    PAC “What about what you did?”

    Rolston “The Auditor General said nasty things about Mac and me”

    PAC “Can you answer the question about what what you did”

    Rolston “When the nasty foreigner says nasty things things about me, he is really saying nasty things about Cayman”

    PAC “Why aren’t you answering the question?”

    Rolston “I can’t remember anything”

    PAC “Nothing?”

    Rolston “Nope, was drunk”

    PAC “Did you take notes”

    Rolston “Yes, but a mysterious woman who was in my car when I crashed it drunk took them all”

    PAC “Who was this woman”

    Rolston “No idea, I was drunk. She was mysterious”

    . . .




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    • Anonymous says:

      Clearly he was following the Rob Ford handbook for confessions: “Yes, I have smoked crack cocaine. Probably, in one of my drunken stupors.”




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    • Anonumous says:

      CNS it is time for the “best comment of the day” icon.




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  8. Anonymous says:

    How much of this period can he remember?




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  9. Shaggy says:

    Wasn’t me




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  10. Mismanagement Consultant says:

    Mismanagement by Al with schools is being exposed by Rollie. Campaign 2017 has begun!




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  11. Anonymous says:

    Gee Rolly, you mean the Auditor General didn’t find everything that went wrong with the schools to be the fault of the previous government just like you and McKeeva had planned?




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    • Anonymous says:

      The incompetence of Mr. Alden McLaughlin as minister of education (2005-09) is being laid bare for all to see. Why was TJI awarded the contracts? Who approved the change orders? Why did the budget get blown out of the water?Have lessons been learnt by Mr. Alden and cronies? The bridge loan fiasco demonstrates the fragile state of CIG finances and project management failures by politicians who cannot balance their own cheque books.




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      • Forelock says:

        There is no substance to the allegations that the tendering process the awarded the Schools to TJI was flawed. The Auditor General dealt with that point in his earlier report.

        The issue with the Change Orders was that no one on the CIG side of the contract managed them. The Contractor was forced to stop work in the face of CIG’s breach of contract because it could not continue to fund massive increases in the scope of the work, which were really design completion during construction, without being compensated properly for them.

        After the election of UDP, the situation for the contractor did not change, so both sides were as bad as each other.

        The reason why CIG’s team could not agree to pay for the Change Orders was because CIG was in a cash crunch due to the global recession in 2008/9. At the same time it did not make the decision to change the timing of the projects to suit the new financial circumstances because that had political consequences that were unacceptable to them at the time.

        It’s convenient for both political parties to continue to try to blame the contractor for the mess, but that’s not what the Auditor General found, because its just not true.




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        • Anonymous says:

          This is very well written and completely false. And by the way, the point being made is that something is not true simply because the Auditor General says it. Read the audit report, and if you know the first thing about auditing, it won’t take long for serious flaws to start jumping out. I am not saying the whole report is flawed, but it is obvious that it wasn’t written to serve as an audit report, there is something else going on here.




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        • Hunter Jones says:

          Wow, that is the closest I have read of the truth. Hunter Jones




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    • History Lessons says:

      WOW Alden overpaying for projects with expensive consultants….wasting public funds…. that could never happen again….could it?




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      • Anonymous says:

        Lest we not forget Angela Martins. While on the subject of over spending, was it not Alden and Angela who started the Heros Day celebration- even bringing in a brass band from the USA which costed 100K. It was also these same 2 who spent the people’s money with lavish rides in limos and fancy dinners. And today we can’t even find persons to be nominated for the Heros day awards. How sad this country is.




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  12. Anonymous says:

    Why is Rolston blamed for the mess with the schools made by the current Premier Alden who spent millions on monuments to his ego?
    The PPM committed to constructing four schools and wasting millions on contracts with lodge brothers the last time. It is only outdone with the recent decision to push forward with the cruise dock that will costs Cayman 300million in construction costs alone.




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  13. Anonymous says:

    Is he in a drinking phase, a God phase or a mixture of the two phase?




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    • Annamouse says:

      Sometimes da drink ‘elps you find da Lord!




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      • Anonymous says:

        Certainly in the period between being charged and sentenced that appears to the case. Often god is found after pleading not guilty, seeing the evidence and then changing one’s plea.




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  14. C'Mon Now! says:

    Basically Cayman has been let down by our politicians for a generation now. It is truly saddening. In my mind none of the people who have held office in government or been hangers on of the various parties deserve to go back in after the next election. I know it won’t happen but the country would benefit greatly from a clean slate of members and ministers. it would be nice if under the new system some new candidates of quality emerged to run under OMOV as the current bunch have let us all down repeatedly. I do not think anyone can argue that we have had good government for a long time. People may not intend to do harm to these islands but invariably that is what has happened. Finger pointing and blame between PPM & UDP will get us nowhere and both sides have shown they lack the ability to run the country in a responsible way.




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