$8.7M more needed for schools

The Cayman Islands Government will have to make an $8.77 million supplementary budget allocation with relation to the construction of three new high schools for work that was done ahead of the agreed schedule.

Leader of Government Business McKeeva Bush read a statement on the subject on behalf of Minister of Education Rolston Anglin at a press conference Monday.

‘Last week, Cabinet was advised that an additional $6.83 million is needed to pay for works already completed to the John Gray and Clifton Hunter campuses during the 2008/09 financial year, which ended last June,’ Mr. Bush said. ‘An estimated $1.94 million is also outstanding for site works on the Beulah Smith Campus.’

Mr. Bush said the amount owed far exceeded the funds budgeted for the schools in the 2008/09 financial year. He said $3.27 million of the amount owed related to John Gray High School and $3.54 million related to Clifton Hunter High School.

‘Cabinet was advised that this occurred because of the previous administration’s decision to approve additional payments to the contractor which exceeded the agreed payment schedule,’ he said. ‘This additional spending exhausted all the available capital before June 2009, requiring supplementary funding to complete the payments.

‘We are now being asked to find the $8.77 million, at a time when a crippling operational deficit has already been identified.’

Ministry of Education Chief Officer Mary Rodrigues said the additional funding required was part of the projected overall cost for the schools and it was simply for work done in advance of the construction schedule.

However she said another $15 million of claims made by the contractor were over and above the original agreed contract sum.

Ms Rodrigues said the additional claims had not been confirmed and that a process of conciliation had begun. She also said that quantity surveyors BCQS had been engaged to determine the value of the works done in relation to the contractor’s claim.

Mr. Bush said the $8.77 million surprise in additional funding needed was typical of the challenges Minister Anglin continued to encounter with relations to the schools project.

Because the previous PPM administration had committed the Cayman Islands Government to making the payments, Mr. Bush said Cabinet was working to find a way forward.

However, he said plans had been made to identify potential cost savings on the new high schools. In addition to establishing a steering committee and a new management structure to oversee the projects, Mr. Bush said a process to identify potential cost savings through scope reductions had also started.