AG Khaiyum dodged replying in Parliament to queries by the Opposition Leader on a matter indicating a scam saying government does not respond to leaked documents.
That is untenable, AG. You must be held accountable same as everyone else. You must tell the nation whether the facts claimed by Sodelpa Leader Sitiveni Rabuka are true or not.
Mr. Rabuka had raised questions about huge payments made to Qorvis in 2017 for contract work related to COP 23 in clear breach of the Procurement Regulations.
In fact, Fiji Labour Party had highlighted this breach of the tender process way back in December 2017 at the time it had happened. We are happy that the Opposition is finally raising the issue in Parliament.
It pertains to a $4.7m contract awarded to Qorvis for PR work for COP23 without tenders being called. And then payments made to the firm without approval from the Finance Ministry.
Both the award of the tender and the subsequent payments were in serious breach of the Finance Management Act and Regulations.
This matter must be fully investigated and we hope Mr Rabuka will not allow it to rest there. The Opposition must pursue this through all the avenues available to it.
FLP posting on 1 December 2017 gave full details of the scandalous payments made to Qorvis in breach of the Finance Management Act. Refer link below for full story.
FLP posting: The $5 million Qorvis COP23 Scam:
- 1st December 2017
Qorvis the Fiji government’s image building US-based company, was awarded a $4.7 million contract in March this year to provide communications and public relations services to the COP 23 presidency without tenders being called.
The contract breached Regulation 30(1) of the Procurement Regulations 2010 which requires tenders to be called for the procurement of all goods, services or works valued at $50,000 or more.
Six months after the government contract was handed to Qorvis (6 Sept 2017) John Connor, executive director of the COP23 secretariat writes to Economy Minister Khaiyum seeking a waiver of the Procurement Regulations for the contract and approval for engaging Qorvis (after already paying Qorvis $US590,000).
Needless to say approval was granted the same day.
The reason Connor gives for not calling tenders as required by the regulation was “limited time”. His excuse: that the COP 23 meeting is to be held between 6 and 17 November 2017 so there was “limited time to procure the public relations and communications services”.
What utter rubbish: who is John Connor trying to fool? The Bonn meeting took place exactly a year after Bainimarama accepted the COP 23 Presidency on 19 November 2016.
According to papers submitted by Connor, Qorvis was being paid for its Cop23 assignment from the 1st of March 2017.
Now, between the time of Bainimarama’s acceptance and Qorvis beginning its contract there was a time span of 4 months, at least. This was ample time for tenders to be called and awarded before work on COP 23 began in March.
As far as Labour is concerned, this is yet another scam involving Qorvis and the FF government. We all know that Qorvis was hired by the Bainimarama regime in 2010 to prop up the dictator’s image both locally and internationally. Qorvis was the king pin in the strategising and execution of Fiji First’s 2014 election campaign and all its dirty tricks – no doubt using taxpayer funds.
Says abour Leader Mahendra Chaudhry: “This is scandalous. It was definitely a set up to give the job to Qorvis and no one else. I wouldn’t be surprised if the deal includes Qorvis’ help again for the 2018 general elections, as a payoff.”
“Furthermore, without calling for tenders how does the government know what would be a fair sum for the services to rendered under the contract? There is no transparency involved in the deal,” Mr Chaudhry said.
In fact, according to a local communications source, the payment to Qorvis is grossly inflated considering the nature of the work involved.
DETAILS OF PAYMENT – Breakdown of the $4,658,850 payments to Qorvis are as follows:
- $US 10,000 per month: 1 March 2017–31 December 2018 to provide a digital platform and digital contents for it and to arrange media events for the Presidency
- $US85,000 per month: 1 March 2017 – 30 June 2017 for basic technical support, logistical and communications support for the Presidency
- $US95,000 per month: 1 July 2017 to 31 December 2018 continuation of the above service
- $US25,000: as additional surcharge to support staffing and meetings at the Bonn conference