Nov 29, 2015 News
By Kiana Wilburg
Government’s careful selection of Indian company, Fedders Lloyd, to continue works on the controversial Specialty Hospital, reeks of massive corruption, said Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo, yesterday.
During his more than two-hour long press conference at Freedom House yesterday, the former President said that transparency and accountability were undermined by the APNU+AFC administration as they bypassed the tendering system for such a critical project.
On Wednesday, the government announced that a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which will see works restarting on the construction of the Specialty Hospital was signed between Finance Minister Winston Jordan and Fedders Lloyd Country Representative, Ajay Jha.
According to the Finance Ministry, Fedders Lloyd will review the works already started, conclude a design of the Hospital that is acceptable to the coalition government and commit to fully equip the facility on completion of its construction.
The company has also undertaken to commence work on the facility immediately.
When the project was first tendered in 2012, Fedders Lloyd had submitted a bid which did not make the cut as Surendra Engineering Inc. was given the upper hand in the deal.
This is in spite of the fact that Fedders Lloyd’s bid was lower and it had experience in constructing hospitals across the world unlike the winner of the contract. Surendra is a mere spare parts fabricator for sugar mills across India. But Surendra turned out to be an embarrassment for the previous administration as it ended up running off with millions of dollars in advance payment for the project and government, despite a court ruling in its favour, is yet to recover the monies lost.
The APNU+AFC government, on accession to office, reviewed the project and concluded that since there was no existing contract that could be enforced, it was impractical to continue to keep the Line of Credit (LOC) in its existing form, especially since it was attracting commitment fees.
Government therefore requested EXIM Bank of India to cancel the LOC for the Specialty Hospital and to re-allocate the balance of funds to a project to modernize three Primary Healthcare Facilities.
However, the Government of India (GOI) in its response, while indicating its no objection and support for the modernization of Primary Health Care Facilities, suggested that the Granger administration consider salvaging the Specialty Hospital, as it will complement Primary Health Care facilities in Guyana. The Specialty Hospital is intended to cater for high end surgeries and other health care demands.
The administration examined the merits of the proposal and began searching for a willing partner to complete the Specialty Hospital using the remainder of the LOC.
In the interest of time, Government said that it approached Fedders Lloyd to explore the possibility of the company completing the project.
When it lost the bid in 2012, Fedders Lloyd had protested against what it deemed to be a corrupt procurement process under the previous administration and representing him at the time was Attorney at Law, Khemraj Ramjattan, who is now the Minister of Public Security. With this in mind, Jagdeo insists that Fedders Lloyd being selected by government was no mere coincidence.
The Opposition Leader said, “Every person in this room knows the role that Ramjattan played as a lobbyist for Fedders Lloyd when it did not get the contract…They make it seem like India held a gun to their head and said, ‘you have to go with this hospital’ hence they reconsidered from five months ago when they said ‘Guyana does not need this hospital.’ But India didn’t force their hand.”
The Opposition Leader also debunked Government’s claim that it went with the second lowest bidder in 2012 which happens to be Fedders Lloyd.
Jagdeo stressed that this company was actually disqualified during the tender process and challenged Government to make public, the evaluation documents which would reveal such to the nation.
“They have a duty to release the last evaluation report because they are using that as their reference to say that this is the second best company. They should release it so it will show that this company was disqualified and that report was not done by politicians but by the technical evaluators,” said the Opposition Leader.
He added, “But even if they were the second ranked winner, the right thing to do, the transparent thing to do, is to hire an independent company to evaluate the work done, the remaining works to be done, acquire new bills of quantity and then go to tender. But no, they took Fedders Lloyd and that company will decide on the work and the value of what was done.”
Jagdeo warned that in going in this route, the country could be duped by Fedders Lloyd as the possibility exists that they may not be honest about the evaluation and cost of the works done. He insinuated that the company may overcharge on the project.
In spite of the criticisms over Government’s selection of Fedders Lloyd, Finance Minister Winston Jordan had said that he simply won’t respond.
Pressed on Friday to say why Government did not go to tender and for a reaction to the mounting concerns, Jordan had said, “We have nothing to react to. We put out a statement which clearly states what we did and that’s all we will say at the moment. Government is moving forward. We signed an MOU and not a contract. They are two different things and people need to understand that.”
But Jagdeo rubbished Jordan’s response. “Jordan says that it is an MOU but how can you start work on an MOU? There are so many unanswered questions about this project. This is simply unacceptable.”
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