Independent investigation needed for single sourcing contracts – AFC urges
Failure on the part of Government to appoint a Procurement Commission, several years after the enactment of legislation for the introduction of such a body, has had dire consequences.
And according to Leader of the Alliance for Change, Khemraj Ramjattan, in the health sector alone there is evidence of the very disturbing implications.
He said at the party’s press conference, yesterday, at Side Walk Café, Middle Street, Georgetown, that for the past 12 years, billions of dollars in drugs were being sourced through the New Guyana Pharmaceutical Corporation (GPC) without competitive bidding. This process, according to him, fell under what the government refers to as single sourcing.
Ramjattan added that many reports in the media pointed to prices paid by the government “many times the retail price for similar items and under sweet heart arrangements which conflict with normal commercial terms.”
“In particular, the entire annual purchase is paid for at the beginning of the year rather than on delivery,” added Ramjattan.
The AFC Leader also made reference to the fact that the Auditor General’s report repeatedly raises questions such as over-buying, non-delivery, expired drugs, dumping of damaged items all of which cost taxpayer billions of dollars annually.
Given the non-commercial terms with New GPC, the special relationship between the company and Government officials, past and present and failure of the government to open this purchase to competitive bidding, it is necessary that a fraud investigation be carried out by an independent commission, Ramjattan stressed yesterday.
At the very least, such an investigation would remove speculation and put to rest any perceived malfeasance, he said yesterday.
The Public Procurement Commission which is a constitutional body born from the Public Procurement legislation should have been established in June of last year. At least this was the pronouncement of Government through Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carolyn Rodrigues, during a sitting of the National Assembly in May.
She was at the time responding to her shadow Parliamentarian, A Partnership for National Unity’s, Deborah Backer.
The Foreign Affairs Minister had in fact told the House then that to the best of her knowledge this is a matter actively engaging the attention of the political opposition and the administration. She said too that at present the status quo is set at the submission of names.
The parliamentary opposition and the government were expected to submit the names of persons to sit on the commission. With a Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament in place, the Commission would have been finalized thereby allowing for its establishment thus rendering Cabinet’s involvement in matters related to procurements irrelevant.
The Procurement Act of Guyana stipulates the role of the Commission. Under the current Legislation, Cabinet has the right to review all procurements that exceed $15M.
According to the legislation in force, Cabinet shall conduct its review on the basis of a streamlined tender evaluation report to be adopted by the Public Procurement Commission.
“The Cabinet and, upon its establishment, the Public Procurement Commission, shall review annually the Cabinet’s threshold for review of procurements, with the objective of increasing that threshold over time, so as to promote the goal of progressively phasing out Cabinet involvement and decentralising the procurement process.”
The Procurement Act also states that in conducting a review, Cabinet may object to the award of the procurement contract only if it determines that the procuring entity failed to comply with applicable procedures.
If the Cabinet objects to an award, the matter shall be referred to the procuring entity for further review. It is emphasised that the legislation’s clause shall not be construed as authorising the Cabinet to award a tender to any other supplier or contractor.