No evidence govt. blacklisting underperforming contractors
- Nigel Hughes
Government has the ultimate responsibility to pursue breaches in public contracts to recover monies.
This notion was expressed by Chairman of the Alliance For Change (AFC), Nigel Hughes, last week during the party’s press briefings.
In recent times, there have been questions whether government was invoking contract clauses to penalize underperforming contractors.
According to Hughes, as a principle, there should be a standard operating procedure for contracts, and especially for government contracts.
“When people breach contracts…breach provisions of the contracts… it is expected that the state should, as a matter of course, protect its interest.”
Hughes, a lawyer by profession, said that the AFC expects automatically that all breaches will be addressed in a manner prescribed in the contract.
“Once breached, one should expect the government, as a responsible government, to take contractual remedies… Government is in a position as a trustee of the people’s money.
It is not government’s money to decide whether to recover or not to recover it.”
There was one notable case, in January this year, of government taking the harshest of stances against a contractor – termination of contract- when it ended the Amaila Falls road contract with Synergy Inc. There was also one case in which the contractor of La Parfaite Harmonie Bridge on the West Bank of Demerara, was supposed to have been penalised because of delays.
However, there have not been many other evidential cases, at least not any made public, of contractors being penalized. Rather, there are numerous cases of contracts being extended and contractors being given chances to rectify work.
Hughes mentioned the Supenaam Stelling, which cost Guyana over $500M to build, with another huge sum of money being spent by government to fix faults. An independent investigation failed to find one party at fault after a key part failed during initial operations. Government was forced to delve deep into its coffers to pay for those blunders.
The AFC Chairman made it clear that the money is not the government’s, it belongs to the people.
Hughes also wondered whether it is a policy of government to blacklist contractors who breached contracts. It is the norm in other countries where contractors would have failed, maybe deliberately.
“I have yet to see conclusive cases of people being blacklisted. I have not seen this. I certainly believe that the government should discharge its responsibility to pursue all persons in breach of contracts, especially in the supply of goods and contracts.”