Controversies Surrounding Contracts Issued by CMU Still An Issue

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An issue that has already been covered by the media that the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU) has issued contracts that are beyond justification has come up yet again. However, this time, more skeletons are tumbling out of the closet, thanks to the proceedings at the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) of Parliament. The latest revelation coming out of documents submitted by CMU is that a lady contractor, Ms. Campbell-Dunwell collected almost three-fourths of her contract value for 2 years before the end of the first year itself.

The Details for Record

CMU issued a two-year contract to Campbell-Dunwell to seek donations for the university from sources in the United States and the contract value is fixed at J$20 million. Campbell-Dunwell made a request that she be allowed to submit her invoices in USD, to which CMU agreed. Now it turns out she has already collected on invoices to the extent of almost J$15 million by December 2018. The contract period commenced January 12, 2018, and invoices for J$14.9 million by December that year when not even half the tenure is completed, does raise questions. For the record, CMU stated she has so far collected approximately J$49 million in donations and grants through her consultancy work.

The Larger Question of Propriety

The story does not end here. Ms. Campbell-Dunwell made a request to CMU to release part of the payments due to her against her invoices to another individual, Doreen Miller. This woman’s bank account details had been furnished by her for this. This may be deemed an unacceptable practice under any circumstances. If the contract has been issued to Campbell-Dunwell and she must receive payments under the terms of the contract, how could a third party be paid for this?

As reported in these columns some time back, the very same Campbell-Dunwell has landed another contract worth J$3.5 million a year from the National Education Trust. This was raised in one of the earlier sittings of the PAAC, and the Education Ministry, which oversees both CMU and NET, had said it is taking the opinion of the Attorney General if such double contracting was legal. The operation of that contract has been put on hold for now.

Most of these reports do not immediately indicate any corruption per se. At worst it amounts to a case of impropriety. One opposition member of the PAAC, however, did raise a doubt whether the woman, Ms. Doreen Miller, happened to be connected to former Education Minister, Ruel Reid. She was supposed to have been employed by him as domestic help, but this stands unverified.

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