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JDC’s open response to Save Our Shoreline Jersey’s letter regarding transparency

Below is the full text of a letter from Dave Cabeldu on behalf of Save Our Shoreline Jersey and JDC’s response.

SOS Jersey's Dave Cabeldu's letter to the JEP on 23 May 2016:

Dear Sir,

The Chief Minister, at the Anti Corruption summit, recently promoted the virtues of transparency, but he and his Council of Ministers fail to follow the accountable, open, honest principles set out in the Ministers’ Code of Conduct with regard to The States of Jersey Development Company, who are wasting vast amounts of taxpayers’ money to avoid transparency. 

The Privileges and Procedures Committee have recently concluded, correctly, under confidentiality agreements/ procedures, that SoJDC must provide information to the Corporate Scrutiny Services Panel. To date SoJDC have failed to do so despite being served with a court summons in August 2015. Using taxpayers money, SoJDC are considering challenging this ruling under a Royal Court Judicial Review, thus ignoring their responsibility provided to them by the States. The operating instructions for the company set out in P73/2010, require SoJDC to “provide for transparency and clear accountability to the States Assembly throughout the development process.” 

If and when Scrutiny Panel members are finally allowed to view the files that they need in order to complete their work in relation to the International Finance Centre, SoJDC insist that one of their Directors ‘invigilate’. Clearly they do not trust our elected States Scrutiny Panel members. This attitude is abhorrent and totally contrary to the message that the Chief Minister gave his London audience. 

SoJDC have recently, erroneously, claimed they were established “as a limited company to operate at arm’s length from government in order for it to successfully compete in the commercial world on behalf of taxpayers.” However SoJDC has not paid the Treasury for the old JCG building / site, which in their accounts is a deferred debt. They appear to be borrowing tens of millions directly from the taxpayer, via the Treasury, to fund the construction of College Gardens but without a Ministerial Decision or approval by the States. SoJDC was supposed to be limited specifically to be a “risk averse” operation but they have repeatedly broken the States mandate.

Perhaps it is time that this out of control, risk driven quango who show scant respect for the democratic process should be immediately dissolved?

 Yours sincerely 

Dave Cabeldu
SOSJersey

 

JDC’s Response: 

JDC wished to respond to Dave Cabeldu of SOS Jersey’s letter to clarify the statements he made, as many of the facts are incorrect and may confuse the public.

1. This has never been a matter of avoiding transparency. The majority of the documentation on the JIFC project has been made available to the public online. The only documents JDC wishes to remain confidential are the commercially sensitive documents which if made public could be damaging to the project as knowledge of JDC’s contracts would allow rival developers and potential tenants to have a commercial advantage. These documents have already been made available to Scrutiny's appointed advisors, EY. Following the PPC decision, Scrutiny will also be able to view these documents. 

It’s also important to note that PPC did not entirely agree with Scrutiny and instead sought to reach a compromise. At paragraph 64 of PPC’s decision, PPC stated:

“the PPC accepts that SoJDC, UBS, HSBC and Camerons have legitimate concerns in relation to preserving the confidentiality of the contents of the documents sought by the Summons and it did not agree with the submission made by the CSSP that the commercial sensitivity of such documents was less than those involved in the case of Veolia. In particular, the PPC noted the comments made by Mr Burton of Camerons that the information sought by the CSSP concerning the contract with Camerons included detailed information concerning Cameron’s rates for labour, wage costs, profit recovery, supply chain and relevant contact details, and that if SoJDC had disclosed in its invitation to tender documentation that the documents received would be disclosed to CSSP then Camerons would not have tendered for the contract to act as main contractor for Building 4. For this reason it was appropriate to impose the protections set out at paragraph 62 above as regards inspection of the documents only at the offices of SoJDC or its lawyers, that the documents should not be copied and that a draft of the CSSP’s report should be provided to SoJDC for comments.”

2. As stated, Scrutiny's own independent advisor, EY has already seen ALL the documents and produced a report stating that Buildings 4 and 5 are viable and that JDC should continue with developing Building 5. 

3. Dave Cabeldu’s comments on College Gardens are completely misinformed. There is NO funding coming from the Treasury for the College Gardens development. JDC has its funding agreed with a third party bank. All profits from the development will be paid direct to the Treasury. 

4. More importantly, JDC is currently seeking ministerial approval to commit to the main contract, to agree to the funding proposals and sell the units to third parties. JDC is currently undertaking some infrastructure works as a minor works contract that do not require ministerial approval. Therefore, JDC is strictly adhering to P73/2010, which is what the States Assembly approved. 

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