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Nov 13, 2013

Former Chief Executive Director of SIF says there should be no room for irregularities

Oscar Alonso

The Dangriga Marketplace is still incomplete. The project came to a halt when allegations surfaced that the contractor, Kenard Smart, was being extorted by employees of the Social Investment Fund (SIF). Five of them were terminated including the executive director. But the project is languishing and the Dangriga mayor says that the Prime Minister refuses to talk to him on the issue. This week, we caught up with Oscar Alonso, a former Chief Executive Director of SIF. He says that there ought to be no political interference in the awarding of contracts and that measures were in place to ensure that the communities benefited from projects. 

 

Oscar Alonso, Former Chief Executive Director, SIF

“I think SIF is a wonderful organization. When I went there as the Chief Executive Director, it was on the verge of being closed down. The World Bank has threatened to withdraw the funds because projects were being improved but not implemented. I was able—with the help of the minimization of political interference and from the executive at the time and also with the establishment of a good technical team—to begin to ensure that we were utilitzing the funds and we were able to let it gain the respect and recognition to even allow the European Union, the IDB, World Bank to begin to pump funds into it. And I am sure that other members that are there would remember my philosophy that we have to run this ship on a good keel. No room for any irregularities, no room for any practices that will compromise the reputation of the institution and our job was to ensure that the monies reached out to the poor and the communities for which they will get. I had also adopted a strategy that for contracts in order to have the power to reach out to all the districts…to ensure that any project for a particular district, only those contractors from those districts would be allowed to compete. So that then it would allow each district to build up the contracting service for them to compete for contracts of higher value. I left there in 2008 and I had hoped that some of the principles and practices that I had shared with them would continue and that they would have improved on it.”

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