Public procurement…Systems in place for accountability and transparency
“I don’t want to see the same names looking at and evaluating bids.” – Ramotar
By Latoya Giles
President Donald Ramotar yesterday reiterated that errant contractors and service-providers could be banned for “shoddy” work. The President made this remark at the closing day for the National Procurement Symposium, which was held at the Convention Centre.
The Head of State told the audience that he had always wanted a forum to discuss several issues with the procurement sector. He said that the government has being trying to get a system which is very open, and stressed that accountability is important for any democratic country striving for excellence.
He said that he wants this “accountability” feature for the state, and added that the government has put a lot of work into the framework for this. He added that several systems were put in place for accountability and transparency.
“The government has introduced a public procurement system, so that we could get public tendering for the government’s needs. We also introduced public opening of bids, for persons who have an interest, to ensure transparency, “the President noted.
Moreover, he emphasized that all of these things are being evaluated by technical teams, and a number of persons were trained, because he wanted a wider rotation system. “We need a rotation, I don’t want to see the same names looking at and evaluating bids,” Ramotar asserted.
He sought to clarify that cabinet does not award contracts, but gives no-objections. He said that if there are concerns, they would send it (contract) back with observations. The contract would have to be re-evaluated and returned to be taken into consideration.
“We have to put in place strong legislation in order to try and ensure that our system is fair and we work under strict guidelines. The reason for this is that we want to ensure that Guyanese are getting value for their tax paying dollars.”
“Business people and contractors would have equal opportunities to bid for these jobs, and there would be fairness for allocation of contractors.”
Ramotar further stated that this should be strictly based on merit.
“We wanted to broaden the pool of contractors and service providers so that we could encourage competition. This would help with the value for money within the system.”
Notwithstanding this, the President said that he is well aware of problems which sometimes are highlighted in the newspapers.
“Not all of it has to do with the work that has to be done, some has to do with politics,” Ramotar opined.
He said that in some instances the story may be truthful, but sometimes people need to look at the problem practically.
“Some jobs are long overrun… there is always an application for extension, and this tells me that we are allowing contractors to be bidding for more than one job at a time and not having the capacity to do all,” the President asserted.
He said that this has to form a part of the evaluation process, because when it happens, it costs the government additionally.
“We are a poor, developing country, and we cannot afford this additional cost, because it is taking away from other sectors. We are living in a competitive world and we need to invest in our people. We (government) have to ensure that we can save our money and invest it on our people, education and health wise.”
Further lashing out at contractors, the President said that rain should not be an issue or excuse for not getting the job done. He said that everyone in Guyana should have figured out by now that we have a specific weather pattern because of our proximity to the equator.
Ramotar further told the gathering that some of the variations are huge and sometimes these problems are with consultants and engineers. He pointed out that this also related to contractors who cannot finish their work, all of which is unacceptable for a country like Guyana which is struggling to enhance people’s livelihood.
“Poor supervision leads to shoddy work and is costing the government considerable amounts. Very often a lot of work has to be redone and these are things that we cannot tolerate, it takes away from different sectors,” Ramotar told the audience.
The Head of State assured that he has asked the Ministry of Finance and Attorney General to re-examine these laws because taxpayers should not be paying for this.
“I’ve instructed them already that we should implement penalty clauses where people sign contracts and without valid reasons cannot complete their contracts”.