You have to be as incompetent as possible to get contracts – Dr. Roopnaraine
With the government seemingly turning a blind eye to the failings of contractors and granting them further contracts, Dr Rupert Roopnaraine of opposition coalition, APNU, has expressed the notion that, “it would seem that it is almost a qualification (that) to get a contract here you have to be as incompetent as possible.”
His remarks come as the government moves to award a US$18 million contract to the Indian company Surendra Engineering Corporation Limited, to build the specialty hospital on the East Coast Demerara.
Surendra Engineering received the contract to build the US$12.5M Enmore Packaging Plant, which workers have complained has had several problems. In fact, there are reports that the government has had to withhold some of the company’s payment because of the performance of the factory.
“We continue to give contracts to contractors whose own performance leaves a lot to be desired, we see it all the time,” Dr Roopnarine said yesterday.
On Saturday last, Minister of Health Dr Bheri Ramsaran and his Permanent Secretary Leslie Cadogan refused to answer key questions regarding the conditions under which Surendra Engineering was recommended for award of the contract.
Last Wednesday, it was reported that Fedders Lloyd Corporation Ltd of India, the lowest bidder for the contract, was skipped over in favour of Surendra Engineering. Fedders Lloyd put in a bid of US$23.2 million with a 23 per cent discount, which made its final bid US$17.6 million. Fedders Lloyd’s bid was in association with Nous Hospital Consultants, an Indian company which specializes in health care projects.
Cadogan informed the media that the contracts are awarded on two bases – technical and administrative. With respect to Fedders Lloyd, he said that company did not meet one (1) qualification under the administrative assessment.
Surendra Engineering has two major contracts with the government, namely the controversial Packaging Plant at Enmore and a US$4 million contract to deliver pumps for the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority.
When asked about the company’s capability to construct a specialty hospital, Cadogan would only say that the evaluation committee took into consideration what was submitted before it.
Surendra Engineering does not boast of having ever built a specialty hospital or any building of the sort. In fact, on its website, the company said it is in the business of providing turnkey solutions in the field of high voltage power transmission lines and substations; and turnkey solutions for sugar plants, manufacturing and exporting engineering goods, machinery, equipment, spares and consumables for heavy industries.
A major bone of contention regarding the bid by Surendra Engineering is that the company failed to meet the requirement of Clause 13:2 under Bid Security on the bid documents, which states that the banking institution in India must have a “correspondent financial institution located in the employer’s country (namely Guyana) to make it enforceable.”
If the bidder does not satisfy this requirement, Clause 13:3 of the said bid documents states that if the bid security requirements are not met, it “shall be rejected…as being nonresponsive.”
Neither the Health Minister Dr. Bheri Ramsaran nor the Permanent Secretary would say which local bank endorsed the bid security by Surendra Engineering. Repeated questions for clarification on this issue yielded no clear answer.
“HIGGLY-PIGGLY” DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY
Meanwhile, Dr. Roopnaraine further expressed disgust with decisions made by the PPP/C administration in relation to the multi-billion-dollar Enmore Packaging Plant, which is now closed because it has no sugar to package.
“This is evidence of the higgly-piggly development strategy of the government,” Dr Rupert Roonaraine said yesterday.
The APNU parliamentarian was reacting to a Kaieteur News report which shows that the US$12.5M packaging plant has not functioned for any of this current crop.
“We don’t have any real strategic planning,” Roopnaraine, who represents APNU on agriculture matters, declared.
He said the lack of forward thinking is what has been preventing the Guyana Sugar Corporation from turning its bitter fortunes around.
“The reason that the Corporation is on the verge of collapse and has been on the verge of collapse for some time now is that development there has been completely whimsical and capricious.”
The Enmore packaging plant was built to improve earnings on the sale of sugar, giving it 35% more on the price it would have received if the sugar was sold by bulk.
All of the sugar produced at the Enmore sugar factory should have been going to the plant for packaging and then shipped off to local and export markets.
Managers at the Enmore estate told Kaieteur News that the packaging plant is not in operation because the sugar currently being produced is intended for bulk export.
For the first crop of this year, Estate Manager Yudhisthir Persaud told Kaieteur News that most of the approximately 21, 000 tonnes of sugar produced went to the packaging plant.
However, for the current crop, no sugar has been sent for packaging at the plant, and Persaud told Kaieteur News that he is not sure when they will receive those orders.
The plant was commissioned in May 2011. It was announced then that the intention is for the plant to package 40,000 tonnes of sugar per year.