Smart’s creditors may sue SIF

Emy Gilharry Ramirez of Gush & Emy, from Corozal, may sue the Social Investment Fund to recover the $500,000 in material and labor, which she claims she invested to help Kenard Smart of K&G Construction execute the $1,377,839 Dangriga market project.
Ramirez retained the services of attorney Audrey Matura when SIF terminated Smart’s contract on September 9 for non-completion of the project even after he had been granted two extensions for a total of 110 days.
Lyndon Bailey also reportedly invested $75,000 in labor and materials to assist Smart and will be a party to any litigation to recover his investment.
According to a contract assessment prepared by SIF on May 21, Smart received 12 disbursements under the contract from June 4 2012 to may21, 2013 for a total of $597,207 or about 43 percent of the total value of the contract, but the project was due to be completed by the end of July.
This when Smart sought the help of Bailey and Ramirez to help complete the project, because he claims he could get timely disbursements from SIF for the project. Ramirez joined the project on June 25, 2013.
According to Minister of State for Economic Development Hon. Santiago Castillo, SIF is not required to make good on any monies Smart may owe Ramirez and Bailey, as SIF did not enter into any written contract with Ramirez and Bailey. SIF Board of Directors Chairperson Yvonne Hyde echoed Castillo’s statements before she boarded a flight leaving Belize on Tuesday morning.
Not so, Argues Matura, who has produced a letter written by SIF project manager Ernest Raymond of the Belize Municipal Development project to Scotiabank manager Luis Gutierrez on August 19, 2013, assuring him that $780,632 still remained to be disbursed under the project, and requesting that he extend a credit facility to Emy Ramirez under the project, for her to be able to pay for materials and labor for the project.
According to minutes of a construction meeting of July 17, 2013. Ernest Raymond and now terminated engineer Lionel Jimenez used to visit the site on a regular basis to assess the progress of the project. Jimenez is one of the persons to whom Smart claims he used to make kickback payments, but on May 17, around the time of the last disbursement of $65,000 that Smart collected under the project, Jimenez was replaced by a new engineer, Francisco Gonzalez. Anthony Thurton and Associates were design consultant for the project and initially used to do the site visits on SIF’s behalf, but they abandoned the project in October 2012, and Raymond took on the site supervision after that.
The minutes of the meeting also noted that there had been 30 business days or 42 calendar days lost during the period May 2013 to July 17 2013 due to lack of materials and poor workmanship, even though the contractor had not claimed any days lost to weather or owner delays.
Curiously enough also, a draft report prepared by the Contractor General Edwin Arzu shows that Ramirez reports contributing $85,075.10 in labor and $174,919.81 inmatearisl for a toal of $2569,994.91 plus administrative expenses of $152,161.76 ffor a toal of $412,156.67.
In comparison, SIF’s assessment of the works done is $88,400.67 and materials on site amounting to another $110,000; for a total of $198,400.67.
As Minister Castillo explains it, with the project delayed in March, Smart asked for and was granted a 70-day extension of the contract to June, when he requested and was granted a further 40-day extension to October. But the project was to have been completed by July, and Smart’s contract included a of which
There seems to be no end to the parties who may become involved in the litigation to recover monies invested in the project, the Dangriga Town Board as well as the Dangriga market vendors who have suffered a loss in revenue for over a year as a result of not having a proper location from which to sell their produce.
Even as SIF was terminating its four employees and request in Executive Director Cano’s Resignation, Smart wrote to Ernst Raymond on September 217 and to Wilfredo Guerrero, President of the Association of Professional engineers, informing them that he would be invoking the adjudication clause of the market contract. SIF terminated the project becauses the contract contains a clause that said the contract would automatically be void if the project fell 100 days behind schedule.
Smart argues that when he got the extension of contract, he signed new contract with SIF on July 18, 2013 with a commencement date of July 23, 21013, so the works could not possibly be 100 days delayed, and therefore SIF could not invoke the 100 days late clause of the contract.
So while SIF engineers evaluate the works completed on the site and the cost of the works that need to be completed and a new contract is put out to tender with a suitable timeframe for the tender bid process and the final selection of a new contractor, SIF will also be bogged down in litigation, and the Dangriga market vendors will have another long wait for their refurbished market. Matura said she is trying to avoid unnecessary delay and to get the heads at SIF to be reasonable, own up to what they agreed to and settle out of court.

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