Mr Speaker, I beg to support the Motion for the approval of a contract agreement for the sum of £76 million for the Ministry of Education to carry out some activities.
Mr Speaker, the objectives of the Project are captured at paragraph 5 of the Report and they are all very
good intentions of the Government to improve education, especially, in the technical and science areas.
Mr Speaker, I would limit my comment to an item in the Report which talks about value for money. The Hon Deputy Ranking Member made a comment, which is also in the Report, that the Committee was informed that value-for-money audit was carried out by Crown Agents.
Mr Speaker, sadly, the Committee failed to demand and see a copy of the value-for-money audit report. Just before we got to this point, in an Answer to a Question by one of our Hon Colleagues, it came out that a project that was developed by a State agency -- the Hydro Department of the Ministry of Works and Housing, -- led to a cost overrun of over 61 per cent of the project; meanwhile, we have the best hydrological engineers there. Simply put, it meant that we did not do enough work in preparing the project.
Otherwise, we would have known that the amour rock that was discovered in the bed of that river would have been detected and costed. So, today, the cost of that project has been doubled, simply because we could not put it together.
Mr Speaker, my point is that if the Committee is satisfied that just because somebody said value-for- money audit was done by the Ministry of Finance, which is what the requirement says -- I think that the subject matter Committee should have demanded to see it. This is because value-for-money audit, as far as I am concerned, must be at the heart of what this House carries out.
Mr Speaker, in this Report we are told that the developer gave us a five per cent discount on the original contract sum of £80 million, which is a good thing. However, when we say that value-for-money audit has been done and we reduce it to a report for this House to approve it, one day, let us assume that it turns out that such was not the case, this House would then have been encouraged to approve something hypothetically. I believe this should be a lesson for all of us in Committees, that when agencies come around and give us these assurances, they should just show us copies of value-for-money audits, so that we could be assured.
Mr Speaker, this is a lot of money to be spent on not a single item, but on a series of things. Therefore, I feel that as a House, if we are able to look at these things critically, this would help us to be a guard on the public purse in the way we discharge our duties.