Dec 13, 2015 News
There is emerging evidence that the Chief Executive Officer of Guyana Power and Light Inc. (GPL), Colin Welch, intervened in a multi-million contract for pre-paid meters.
He asked the supplier to lie to authorities in Guyana about the specifications.
A series of chat messages and Skype calls purportedly made by Welch with regard to the transaction, has since been sent to the directors of that State-owned company as well as to top Government officials.
This latest incident would be one of the toughest tests yet for the new administration which has insisted that it will run a clean Government and stamp out corruption.
According to an official, who asked not to be named, earlier this year the company went out to tender for the supply of some 28,000 pre-paid meters worth over US$4 million.
In early April, the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB) closed the bids with Tesco PLC, a British company, reportedly winning the contract and undertook to supply.
Tesco was going to procure the meters out of China. It was buying from Shenzhen Clou Electronics Company Limited of China to supply to GPL.
However, one of the bidders objected to the evaluation and the subsequent award, claiming that Tesco’s supplier, Shenzhen Clou Electronics Company Limited, does not manufacture the 100-amp meters required by GPL.
Rather, Shenzhen’s website and other information indicate that they specialize in other specifications that were not required by GPL.
According to GPL officials, another objection raised had to do with the inspection of the meters. The 28,000 meters had to be certified by an internationally accepted lab before being shipped. There were questions over the certification documents presented.
The tender board, following up on the objection by the bidder, wrote both Tesco and Shenzhen, asking for clarifications.
It appeared that during the wait for answers, Welch somehow started communicating with both companies.
This is a big no-no as procurement regulations bar State officials from intervening while the tender is being handled by the tender board, to ensure transparency.
In the texts, Welch signaled his intentions to waive tests (inspections) telling the Chinese manufacturer- “We don’t need any other report; its ok. You already pass our test report…It is ok. I already pass all of our meters.”
During the exchange, the company also explained that it would be their first time producing 100amp meters.
Welch, however, persisted, suggesting that the company should lie.
“…They will call to verify but that is ok just say the 100-amp meters will be specifically produced for GPL because what you’re making is 80 amps.”
The acting CEO, in the text messages, told the Chinese company that it must also lie that it has the 100 amps prepaid meters available in other countries as there would be questions from “someone on the board”. A wrong answer could lead to disqualification, Welch implied.
“So let’s keep it simple and the way I explain and I will approve the project in the morning,” he assured the manufacturer.
“We don’t need any other report; its ok. You already pass our test report…expecting to execute this tender in the morning…We have a board meeting at 9am. Well I must sleep now I am very tired.” (sic)
The Chinese manufacturer, in the text messages, urged Welch to have a good rest.
“We are appreciated about your help. You took special time to solve out the problem. My friend. Have a good sleep.” (sic)
The messages indicated that Welch was set to travel to China to meet with Shenzhen Clou officials on the deal.
Welch has been under a cloud since being appointed as acting CEO in late August.
He is being accused of forging his credentials. He was elevated from Deputy CEO -Technical following the stormy dismissal of Bharrat Dindyal on August 14.
In early August, Welch clashed with his former boss, Dindyal, at the GPL’s Sheriff Street offices after the latter overturned a decision to send home two senior staffers.
GPL, as the State company in charge of the country’s network of power stations and its distribution network, has been under fire for its management and its failure to reduce electricity loss from thefts and other technical factors.
It spends almost US$100M annually to import fuel.
But its spending and delays in bringing projects to fruition have raised questions about management’s capacity.
Yesterday, calls to Minister Patterson for a comment went unanswered.
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