Guam – PNC News has obtained a copy of a letter sent by Guam Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo to Acting Airport Board Chairman Frank Santos which cautions the airport to be fair and transparent as it decides on a new contract for the multi-million dollar airport concession.
The caution comes following gifts received and returned by 2 airport Board members from one of the bidders, Lotte of Korea.
The letter is dated last Friday, December 7th, from the Congresswoman to Acting Guam International Airport Board Authority Chairman Frank Santos.
The subject is the ongoing procurement battle for the award of a new contract for the airport’s duty free concession.
Its a 5-year contract, with a 5-year renewal option, and 4 companies are bidding for the multi-million dollar concession, including DFS which holds the current contract that expires on January 20th.
They’re facing tough competition from 2 Korean firms, Lotte Duty Free and Shilla Duty Free, as well as JR Duty Free of Australia.
In her letter over this procurement, the Congresswoman writes:
“As the selection process continues, I want to express my views that the contracting process should be fair and transparent …”
“It is critical that the process ensure a level playing field for all eligible bidders so that our community receives the maximum benifit from this contract.”
And she warns:
“GIAA’s process and decision-making may affect its standing in the community and its ability to obtain federal investments from the U.S. Department of Transportation if the process is deemed to be anything but fair and open.”
“The financial stability and commitment to growth of our visitor industry may be impacted by this decision…” and “it is important to get this decision right the first time through a fair and level playing field…”
Senator Tom Ada Chairs the Committee which has oversight over the airport. He trusts the management is handling the procurement in a fair and transparent manner and he has no concerns about the manner in which the bidding process has been handled, so far.
However he is concerned about the length of the contract, 5 years, with a 5 year option for re-newal. Ada says autonomous agencies are limited to 5 year contracts, anything longer would need legislative approval. The question is still beING researched said the Senator.
The Congresswoman’s letter follows reports by PNC News that GIAA Board members Linda Tolan and Frank Santos met with Lotte officials in Seoul and received gift bags from the company which they subsequently returned.
That trip to Korea was organized by the Guam Visitors Bureau whose Chairman, Monte Mesa, rejected any suggestion that the meetings in Seoul were “arranged meetings” with Lotte officials.
However the GVB Board Chairman is mentioned in an email obtained by PNC News which is from Hyunji Jung of Lotte Duty Free’s Business Development Team.
The email reads, in part:
“Mr. Monte Mesa recommended you as a consultant who is an expert in Guam and bidding for airport concession … after we have your resume we can discuss the scope of work together.”
Mesa acknowledged to PNC News that he had been contacted by Lotte to recommend local business people for their concession bid, and he did recommend some names to them.
But he categorically stated that he had no contractual relationship with Lotte.
“No. I am not employed by Lotte.” said Mesa.
Mesa declined to say who he did recommended to Lotte explaining that they were not selected for the bid team on the airport concession.
But he explained “Just like any other business that is good for Guam they asked for recommendations and I gave them recommendations,” adding “the other bidders also hired consultants for their Guam team.”
“There is nothing wrong with people teaming up with different people who may have similar business objectives,” said Mesa. “Its about creating jobs for Guam,” he said.