By Samisoni Pareti
American public relations company Qorvis was reportedly paid FJ$4.6 million for communication work it did for the COP23 Presidency of Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama.
This is on top of the FJ$1 million Qorvis gets per annum from its contract with the Fiji Government.
Documents made available to IB Online shows that Qorvis was offered two letters of engagement by John Connor, executive director of the COP23 Presidency Secretariat in September, 2017.
The first letter of engagement sought a payment of US$10,000 per month for a total of 19 months from 1 March 2017 to 31 January 2018 “to maintain digital platforms, provide content for the digital platforms and to arrange media events for the Republic of Fiji’s Presidency of COP23.”
The second letter of engagement sought payments to Qorvis of US$85,000 per month from 1 March 2017 to 30 June 2017, as well as another US$95,000 per month from 1 July 2017 to 31 December 2018 plus an additional US$25,000 as surcharge to support staffing and meetings of the Fijian Government in Bonn, Germany at COP23.
“The total cost of the services will be US$2.295,000,” wrote Connor in a memorandum addressed to the Attorney General and Minister for Economy dated 29 August 2017.
“The current exchange rate for USD to Fijian Dollars is 1:2,03. As such, the total approximate cost of services currently equates to FJ$4.658.850.
“Under the COP23 budget, an amount of US$2.585.000 has been allocated to Communications for the monthly retainer, logo design and branding, website design and hosting and travel relation expenses. The proposed cost of the services is within the total budgeted amount,” added Connor.
A stamp showing it to be of the Office of the Minister for Economy shows that the letter was received at 10am on 6 September 2017. A handwritten note on top of the memo says ‘Approved.’
The subject of the memorandum reads: ‘Request for a waiver of Procurement Regulations 2010 – Letters of Engagement of Qorvis MSL Group for providing public relations and communication services and for the development of the COP23 website for the Republic of Fiji’s Presidency of COP23.’
Paragraph 4 of the memo, Conner wrote: “Pursuant to regulation 30(1) of the Procurement Regulations 2010, a tender must be called for the procurement of goods, services or works valued at $50,001 and more.“As COP23 will be held between 6 November 2017 to 7 November 2017, there is limited time to procure the public relations and communications services which are required in the lead up to COP23. As Qorvis is a trusted advisor to the Fijian Government and is currently providing communications services to the Fijian Government, it is recommended that Qorvis is engaged to provide public relations and communication services for Fiji’s Presidency of COP23. Accordingly, it is recommended that the standard tender processes under the Procurement Regulations 2010 are waived.”