From the Diaspora…WHY CAN’T THE PPP GOVERNMENT GET ITS CONTRACTS AND SERVICE TO THE PUBLIC RIGHT?
By Ralph Seeram
If you make a mistake once it’s a learning experience, twice it’s a warning experience, three times brings on firing experiences, and you will be out of a job. When it comes to contracts, the PPP Government has exceeded its three mistakes a long time ago. When it comes to contracts the Government cannot get its act together. One wonders if the latest controversy over the contract for the Specialty Hospital is another sign of favoritism, corruption, Government’s incompetence, or a combination of all three.
What bothers me is the defensive way the Government reacts and attacks individuals when questioned on their decisions. It is as if they should not be questioned; they seem to forget whose money they are dealing with, they forget it’s the people’s money, and they, the people, have every right to question their actions, whether it’s through the media or not.
The award of the contract for the Specialty Hospital needs to be re-examined and reviewed in light of the facts brought out by the losing company, Fedders Lloyd. I will not go into all the technical details of the contract; this has been aired sufficiently in the media during the past few days. However reading through the details, it seemed to me that somebody was making up the rules as that person went along, in my view to favour the winner, Surendra Engineering. The “goal post” was being shifted when it came to the question of the bank guarantee. The government, it would appear, was giving “mixed signals “on this aspect of the contract. Should it have been through a local bank or through a bank in India?
Surendra Engineering did theirs through a bank in India, when the contract stipulates it must be done through a local bank. The government claims the contract was subsequently changed (verbally or otherwise) for the guarantee to be done through a bank in India. Fedders Lloyd’s on the other hand, was done through a bank in India along with a corresponding local Guyanese bank.
On both counts it would seem that Fedders Lloyd met the requirements. Unlike Surendra Engineering, Fedders Lloyd’s consortium has experience in the construction of these types of specialty hospitals. So why did they lose out? We know that Surendra Engineering built a Sugar Packaging plant in Guyana, a plant some perceived as over-priced. Did the company’s prior presence in Guyana give it an unfair advantage? Did the association with some Government officials work to their advantage?
This entire episode needs to be reviewed. Fedders Lloyd seems to be relying on international business practices, not taking into account local business practices which include corruption in the award of contracts. It apparently does not understand the polarization of local politics. If it did, it would not have retained Khemraj Ramjattan as its Attorney.
In fact, it could not have made a worst choice to help its case; not that Khemraj Ramjattan is an incompetent advocate. Far from it, it’s just that the PPP Government is not going to pay attention to anything Khemraj represents. After all, Ramjattan is the leader of one of the opposition parties.
In the USA that might be good move, but in the polarized politics of Guyana, Fedders Lloyd needs to get another Attorney, if the Government is going to pay any attention to it.
Of course there is still hope for the company; it has recourse with the bank in India that is furnishing the loan.
Which brings me to a pet peeve of mine when it comes to service to the public by government. It should rightfully be called “customer no service”. Earlier this week, I went to purchase some air conditioning parts in a store in Orlando. On the wall was a large management notice called the 10 commandments of customer satisfaction, for customers and the employees to see.
Among those “the customers are always right” “never argue with a customer”, and the one I love “the customer pays your salary”. The latter is lost to clerks and officials in public service.
In this 21st Century why do Guyanese have to travel to Georgetown to get a passport, birth certificate or other licences? It does not take much imagination to know that you have to decentralize so the people in Essequibo and Berbice do not have to leave their homes at 4 am to travel to Georgetown, to get a document I can obtain here in Orlando in five minutes.
On a visit last year to Guyana I accompanied someone to the Passport Office to obtain a passport. Given what you hear in the Diaspora, I was surprised when we were told it would be ready in four or five days. On return at the required time the passport was ready, there is no question that things have improved vastly in the passport office. That was better than I can do in the US. Now if they can only decentralize, thousands of Guyanese outside of Georgetown would be very happy.
Before closing on a personal note, I saw a little news item about the death of Hector Bunyan at 90. It jogged my memory when I was aspiring to be a journalist. Back then you were told that shorthand (Pitman’s) would be an advantage. It should be known that Mr. Bunyan was one of the fastest shorthand writers in Guyana “back in the day”.
I had the privilege to be taught by this gentleman, when I attended the then Maggie Clark Commercial School in New Amsterdam. Many will recall that that was the premier school if you wanted to write shorthand. Mr. Bunyan, then an official court reporter/recorder, impressed upon me the importance of shorthand.
He probably would have been disappointed to know I never achieved speeds at over 100 words per minute. To date I know of only one reporter who still writes shorthand, George Barclay, who still covers high court cases in Guyana.
Ralph Seeram can be reach at email email@example.com