US$18M Specialty Hospital…Parliaments in Guyana, India to question deal
“The award of a $3.6B contract to build a specialty hospital at Turkeyen clearly breached procedures and stinks of manipulation, and despite Government’s initial insistence that the award was in order, it should be placed on hold,” argues Khemraj Ramjattan, leader of the Alliance For Change (AFC).
The specialty hospital issue is now to be reviewed in the National Assembly, the Parliamentarian says.
Complaints have been made to the Export/Import Bank of India, which is the institution financing the project through a line of credit from the Government of India. These complaints will soon reach the Lok Sabha – the lower house of the Indian Parliament.
This newspaper understands that the construction contract has been put on hold, at least temporarily.
The contract was awarded several weeks ago to Surendra Engineering, a Mumbai-based company, which built the US$12.5M Enmore Sugar Packaging Plant and which has a contract to supply US$4M in drainage pumps to Guyana. Both contracts are under fire.
In the case of the Enmore plant, the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) has reportedly withheld 30% of the contract price as a consequence of unsatisfactory work and after key aspects of the project ran into trouble. Further, the 14 drainage pumps which were to be delivered after an extension of time to September this year have been delayed and are unlikely to arrive before year-end.
According to Ramjattan, Fedders Lloyd Corporation Limited, in consortium with Nous Consultants, a well known Indian company which has experience in building specialty hospitals, bid the lowest price and satisfied all other requirements.
Ramjattan, a prominent lawyer and fiery politician who has been outspoken on corruption, said that the conditions set out in the bid documents made it clear that Surendra did not qualify as it failed to submit a bid security that was enforceable by a local financial institution in Guyana, and it surely does not have the technical expertise.
“Arguments by the Ministry of Health that the discount Fedders Lloyd stated in its bid was tantamount to two prices are ludicrous. Fedders Lloyd had a final figure and that figure is the amount that has to be taken into account,” Ramjattan said.
The Ministry had claimed that because of the discount in Fedders Lloyd’s bid, which it construed as two prices, it meant that the company had not properly submitted a bid.
But, according to Ramjattan, who quoted the section of the “Instructions to Bidders”, the bid documents also made it clear that discounts are permissible, and ought to be taken into account during the bid evaluation. Further, if the employer, in this case the Ministry, did not know what price was in the bid, it could have asked for clarifications. This is provided for and a very regular occurrence in these matters. This request for clarifications was never done in the case of Fedders Lloyd.
“It is very clear as daylight that someone was hell bent on ensuring that Surendra got the project at any cost, despite its track record with the Enmore sugar packaging plant and now the pumps. Nothing else mattered.”
According to Ramjattan, the bid documents under the heading “award criteria” spoke clearly, also, as to how the contract should be awarded. “…the employer will award the contract to the successful bidder whose bid has been determined to be substantially responsive and to be the lowest evaluated bid, and it further provides that the bidder is determined to be qualified to perform the contract satisfactorily.”
The Parliamentarian said that evidence is clear that certain Government officials have their own standards contrary to those stipulated, and despite the obvious disadvantages of Surendra and its lack of experience, the contract was awarded against all reasons to that company.
“We will not sit back and allow this contract to go through in this manner. We will seek a reviewing of the process in the National Assembly, either at the Economic Services Committee level or hopefully at the Procurement Commission level, if that is set up before year-end. I have started a process of aligning with certain Parliamentarians in India who are well known for their anti-corruption crusade there. I have already spoken to one who indicated strong interest in knowing what is happening in Guyana, since these lines of credit are Indian taxpayers’ monies which ought not to be ill-spent,” Ramjattan revealed.
The Ministry of Health had insisted that it breached no laws in awarding the hospital contract to Surendra Engineering Corporation, but said that Fedders Lloyd had breached instructions that were given to bidders.
The hospital is being funded with a line of credit from India of US$18M. Government intends to staff the hospital with specialists from India to do complicated surgeries, ranging from heart operations and organ transplants to cosmetic surgery.