Thursday, October 12, 2006


My goodness, it all gets so complicated...

Letter to the Governor:

I fully appreciate your desire to finalise some form of agreement between us in the form of a Memorandum of Understanding, and I share with you a sense of frustration that the process is taking so long.  Your esteemed support and help in this project is of enormous value to us, and we very much wish to retain your enthusiasm and personal involvement.  However, even at such an outline stage of agreement, legal advice must be taken, and I felt I should share with you some of the detail behind our lawyer’s reservations about the draft MOU as it stands.  Given that we, like you, are public servants spending public money for the public good, we have an obligation to apply due diligence to such undertakings.  There are many things on which there can be agreement between us, but also some matters of concern.

I hope that you will receive the following comments as evidence that there is some substance to our position, and will agree that they might form the basis for a meeting, at which both our legal teams would be present, where we could arrive at the final form of an agreement.

For example, the draft states that the Governorate has been commissioned to redevelop the site by the Ministry for Religious Endowments.  It does not make clear exactly what rights and status have been assigned to the Governorate under this commission, what if any conditions apply to the assignment or whether it is made without let or hindrance, whether any rights are retained by the Ministry, nor what term (e.g. 99 years, or in perpetuity) applies to the commission.  It is therefore unclear on what basis – status and duration – the Massar discovery centre could expect to occupy its part of the site, and what protection there would be for the public park around it.  You will appreciate that the capital investment in a public facility such as the discovery centre must be made in the sure knowledge that it has guaranteed occupancy of its site for a considerable period.

The draft states that a part of the operating profits from the car parking and service facilities will be set aside for the owner, the Ministry for Religious Endowments.  It is not made clear if this is a percentage or a set amount, nor is there an indication of how substantial such an allocation would be.  We would seek additional reassurance that profits from these sources, after any such allocation, will make a meaningful contribution to the upkeep of the park.  I note too that this draft appears to exclude the discovery centre from the beneficiaries of such profits, which runs counter to earlier discussions between us, and clarification is sought on this point.

The concept of a joint company, while a positive principle, throws up some issues of management control and accountability which are at odds with undertakings we have already given in respect of how Massar will be managed.  We would have to avoid any situation in which such a company felt able to direct Massar in ways which ran counter to the governance structure we already have in place.  As one example, the draft MOU appears to propose that contracts with all practices involved in any project on the site would be taken out by the joint administrative board.  We would seek clarification as to whether you envisage this including the contractors working on the Massar discovery centre, which for our own accountability, have to be answerable to us.

As you know, in the absence of a final MoU we are not losing time in moving the project forward, and we are grateful for the very helpful briefing meeting held recently with your planning team.

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