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“There will be consequences” – VP as Govt rolls out review of public procurement system

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…says sting operations will be conducted

In a bid to clamp down on corrupt practices, Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo has announced that the Guyana Government will be reviewing all public procurement systems countrywide.
Jagdeo made this announcement during a press conference on Thursday, when he warned persons that if they get caught in any corrupt practices, they would face the consequences.
“Let me put on notice all of those people who are responsible for procurement in public corporations, statutory bodies, the Ministries, regions, central ministries, everywhere, all the way up to the National Tender Board, that we’re examining the procurement procedures for compliance and also activities for compliance with the [procurement] laws. And let me make it clear that if we find that those officers are skirting the provisions of the law, the procurement law, then there shall be consequences for them,” he declared.

Vice President Dr Bharrat Jagdeo

Another issue the Government will be seeking to address during this review process is the delay in processing payments for contractors, who have completed their respective jobs. The Vice President said many of these contractors complain that they have obligations such as bank loans that they are unable to pay when payments from the State are held up.
“Some of the accounting officers in the Ministry and the clerks, they keep the processing of payments for people for days on their desks. They [contractors] have to run 10-15 times to get monies for work that they already did…
“It could be a clerk, one clerk who is just holding up payment, because they didn’t process the paper on time or send it forward. And then ultimately, sometimes, they want money to expedite it when the [contractors] should really be receiving their payments. Let me put on notice those people too,” the VP posited.
Already, President Dr Irfaan Ali has informed his Cabinet Ministers about this review process and instructed them to ensure that their respective procurement systems, as well as payment systems, are examined.
“We’re going to take this matter seriously,” Jagdeo emphasised.
Moreover, the Vice President further noted that there could be sting operations set up during this review process to weed out corruption in the public sector.
“For people who go out on public contracts… they’re paid by the Government to supervise the work. So, they have to supervise and then bring in the bills to say this physical work was actually done ‘cause nobody in the office would actually know what is done [out there] and if they falsify that, then you end up paying for what you’ve not received.
“You will have sting operations too. So, I’m forewarning them. If you’re engaged in these practices and you get caught, don’t come later and complain that you have two kids or something else, or you belong to some party or something else. Don’t come and complain about that… If you get caught, you face the consequences!”
This announcement of a review of the public procurement system comes on the heels of the recent controversy surrounding the award of an $865 million contract to a fairly new and inexperienced company, Tepui Group, for the construction of a pump station at Belle Vue, West Bank Demerara (WBD).
Last month, the Public Procurement Commission (PPC) raised several issues regarding the award of the contract to the company that is associated with Mikhail Rodrigues, popularly known as “Guyanese Critic”.
Based on a complaint by former Public Infrastructure Minister, Opposition Parliamentarian David Patterson, the PPC launched an investigation into the contract award and found, among other things, that the company was only established in August 2022 and, therefore, failed to meet the technical requirements of the bid documents, which stated that the successful bidder must have successfully completed projects of a similar nature and size within the last three years.
But VP Jagdeo had previously defended the decision by the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB) to award the contract to Tepui Group.
He explained that new contractors would often be hired by the Government to keep pace with the ongoing rapid development in the infrastructure sector. He had argued too that even companies with years of experience also face challenges and delays in executing projects.
The Vice President has also stated that criteria used to evaluate contractors for Government projects may need to be revised to develop a workable and realistic formula following the controversial award of the multimillion-dollar contract to the fairly new company with limited experience.
While the PPC had flagged several issues in the award of the Tepui contract, the Commission said it could not do anything about the situation, since the contract was already signed. Nevertheless, it has advised the project be strictly monitored for performance and if the contractor was found in breach, that the necessary steps, including termination, be taken.
Recent reports revealed that Tepui Group has committed to completing the project, which has been delayed, by August.
Meanwhile, following the release of the PPC report, Finance Minister, Dr Ashni Singh had noted that the “extremely important” observations and recommendations would be carefully studied by the Government and actions would be taken where appropriate. One of the areas he said corrective actions may be needed is regarding consistency between bidding documents and instructions to bidders. (G8)

The post “There will be consequences” – VP as Govt rolls out review of public procurement system appeared first on Guyana Times.

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