SUNBIZ

FRA Seeks Clarification From MWH On Claims Backdating To 2012

  The Fiji Roads Authority has confirmed it is seeking clarification from MWH on all payments that have been done so far backdated to 2012. FRA chief executive, John Hutchinson,
27 Sep 2016 12:17
FRA Seeks Clarification From MWH On Claims Backdating To 2012

 

The Fiji Roads Authority has confirmed it is seeking clarification from MWH on all payments that have been done so far backdated to 2012.

FRA chief executive, John Hutchinson, revealed this yesterday during a press conference responding to a question raised by the Fiji Sun.

He further answered more queries in regards to MWH terminating their contract with FRA announced the past Friday. This comes into light after FRA withheld payment claimed by MWH to be around $14 million.

FRA has sought for this sum to be substantiated before any payment can be released. However, MWH retaliated and has terminated their contract with FRA now.

Mr Hutchinson said MWH had been required all along to substantiate all their claims.

When asked what changed this time, he said FRA had taken a far closer look at MWH claims more recently.

“We aren’t satisfied. We feel what they are charging us for is not necessarily what we were receiving,” he replied.

“We have given notice to MWH that we wish to examine all their claims of payment back to 2012 to verify whether we have received the services for which we have paid.

“At this point in time they have responded to this advice but since then, they have terminated their contract.

“However, I am not at liberty to disclose what their response was in that particular regard but given they terminated the contract, you can draw your own conclusions.”

Mr Hutchinson stressed FRA is investigating whether MWH’s claims could be considered deception and/or misleading behaviour under the Commerce Commission Decree.

“This is because we are not necessarily satisfied we have received what we have paid for,” he said.

On the same note, Mr Hutchinson confirmed that FRA is continuously reviewing their internal investigations on the payments made so far to MWH.

In terms of the total amount paid to MWH since it started here in 2012, Mr Hutchinson said he was aware of the amount but not prepared to discuss this contractual aspect in public.

 

Cost effective structure

MWH, to Mr Hutchinson’s understanding, had around 120 local employees and 20 expatriates based in Fiji.

Out of this, he said he was not sure how many were directly engaged with FRA’s contracts as MWH did have other works around the country.

At the same time, Mr Hutchinson said MWH had an increasing number of staff members based in New Zealand who were directly engaged with FRA’s contract.

One of the concerns FRA had was the number of the foreign-based staff members that were being billed to the FRA for work.

Mr Hutchinson said that was one of things they had challenged MWH o and they had not provided sufficient substantiation to support those charges.

“A direction was given to MWH on a far more targeted cost effective structure for the remainder of their contract period,” he said.

“That was particularly focussed on directing MWH on reducing the number of foreign-based personnel.

“It is our opinion that direction was what precipitated MWH action on Friday.

“This is because fundamentally, that meant they would have had to start downsizing their workforce earlier and they would not have been able to deliver the services they were contracted to do.”

Feedback:  rachnal@fijisun.com.fj

 

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