I am treading very lightly into the morass that is the EWI imbroglio. Checks and balances in politics are there for a reason, so one always has to take note when someone decides to bypass them to get to a result, even more so when the bypasser is the minister in charge of the sector. I’ve tried to follow what has been going on with the awarding of contracts for a 381 megawatt power generation project to a foreign bidder and found it puzzling months ago, when it seemed that the group who appeared to be leading the bid, got tripped up by a late bid bond payment. That should not necessarily have been a deal breaker in the general scheme of things. But, having been a deal breaker, one has to look at why a similar missed bond payment by the current preferred bidder then seems alright. The minister has been trying to explain what he did and why and lots of people are confused and concerned. I’m not going to try to resolve the chain of events, because we have a set of institutions set up to understand, follow and adjudicate on these matters.
People close to the processes are getting very worried and are seeking to distance themselves from what appears to be a house bursting into flames. So, the energy monitoring committee (EMC, which a few weeks ago was marked as due for a demise, but ‘reprieved’ by the minister) is on the verge of becoming a skeleton as its body loses parts faster that sycamore trees lose leaves in autumn. Members of private sector groups the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC), Jamaica Manufacturers Association (JMA) and the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) Friday morning withdrew their representation on the EMC. A few days prior, The Jamaica Civil Society Coalition (JCSC) withdrew from the EMC and has called on Energy Minister Phillip Paulwell to immediately resign over his handling of the bidding process. That’s their prerogative.
What is interesting is how the various parties are seeking to put pressure on the minister to change his position, and prepared to walk away from the process if he does not. In the scheme of things, this looks like a change in the way that politics is operating in Jamaica. Non-governmental agencies flexing their muscles against ministers, and in the same general direction. That’s not usually the case.
What is they say about rubbing salt into wounds?