Three major Jamaican business groups on Friday withdrew their members from the government's Energy Monitoring Committee (EMC) in protest over the handling of the bidding process on a 381-megawatt power plant project in the country.
President of the Private Sector Organization of Jamaica (PSOJ) Christopher Zacca said his group, along with the Jamaica Manufacturers' Association (JMA), and the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC), were concerned about the events leading up to the award of the license to Energy World International (EWI), the company that has been selected to construct the power plant.
Zacca argued that EWI, with preferred bidder status for the project, had failed to post its performance bond of 37 million U.S. dollars within the specified time frame and should therefore be disqualified from the process.
The decision by Energy Minister Philip Paulwell to grant the company an indefinite extension without consulting the local regulatory body or the EMC meant the project had lost credibility, he said.
The EMC was formed as a partnership between government, private sector interest groups and civil society last December to serve as an oversight body on matters relating to energy.
Things started to go awry when the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) said late last week that it would not finance the EWI project due to what it said was a flawed procurement process.
Paulwell countered that the IDB's decision was an affront to the country and sought to place blame on the Office of the Contractor General (OCG), whose earlier report suggested the process was flawed.
The JCSC also added its voice to those calling for Paulwell's resignation.
"Our objections have been long-standing," the group said Thursday. "It is the unacceptable process that has brought Jamaica into disrepute, not the legitimate criticisms of the OCG, civil society or IDB. The situation need not have come to this."