Mar 10, 2016 News
– current structure remains of concern to the US
By Kiana Wilburg
Guyana’s leaders are faced with a number of economic challenges with only a finite amount of resources
to tackle it. Says Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy, Bryan Hunt.
It is from this vantage point that the American diplomat insists that Government must move expeditiously to close the gaps in Guyana’s procurement system, since these gaps do not encourage adherence to the principle of ensuring value for money.
In a recent interview, Hunt said that from the contracts he has seen, it certainly appears that the contract management standards used internationally have not historically been used in Guyana.
He said that he is however aware that Government is planning to lift the current standard.
“I hope that they move in this direction expeditiously because the current system is concerning. It is concerning to the USA because Guyana has a limited amount of financial resources and the Government has a large number of challenges it has to apply those resources to, and when those resources are not being optimized then the development of the country and the people are going to suffer,” said the Deputy Chief of Mission.
The American diplomat asserted that it is important for the government to look at the entire procurement system with an aim to blocking all conceivable loopholes. He insists that value for money must be had at all times.
Hunt said, too, that civil servants must be trained to do proper drafting and overseeing of contracts.
The emissary then explained that breaches in procurement practices are taken very seriously in the USA as it should be in any other territory.
Hunt said, “The way our system works is that certain things would be written into the contract which
specifies the standard of work the contractor is expected to deliver.
“So if for example, I contract you to provide me with a blue chair with four wheels for my office and you bring a red chair with three wheels, then the clauses within the contract would provide for me to return the chair and demand you provide what the contract says or I can seek civil sanctions against you.”
The Deputy Chief of Mission continued, “But if you try to cover it up or defraud the Government or hide what you have given me then we enter into the realm of criminal proceedings…
“God forbid, I contract you to build a public building and because of the shoddy work you did, the roof collapses and people get injured because of that then you can face civil and criminal liabilities. We take procurement and procurement breaches very seriously.”
The American diplomat said that the way that it works in the USA regarding procurement breaches is that no time is wasted pursuing criminal misconduct in the court as opposed to what happens in Guyana.
He added, “In Guyana this does not happen, and it’s a different system and I understand that. However, I think Government needs to look very seriously at how it does contract drafting and contract management, It also needs to ensure that when it is contracting the private sector for any given project that very clearly laid out are the terms and conditions, what penalties may apply if they fail to adhere to those terms and conditions.
“It needs to train civil servant staff how to oversee a contract to ensure the standards are being met.”
The Granger administration made it known, recently, that it is on a mission to change the ‘wild west’ situation in Guyana’s procurement system.
At a national consultation on Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSME) Public Procurement System requirements, Finance Minister, Winston Jordan, outlined that a number of changes are in the pipeline.
The Finance Minister said that under the Public Procurement Modernization Project, for which funding has been provided by the Inter-American Development Bank under a Technical Cooperation Agreement called Public Procurement Modernization and Financial Management Strengthening in Guyana, Component One will provide support to improve efficiency and value for money in public procurement through strategic planning and introduction of e-government procurement.
This project, he said, will be rolled out this year. He said that the successor initiative by the CSME is Development and Implementation of the Infrastructure and Instruments for an Integrated CSME Procurement Regime.
Jordan said that the deliverables include the Procurement Bill and Regulations, Procurement SOP’s Software and Hardware Installation, Development of Training modules and the ability to roll out these modules online. He said that more will be said on these issues at a later time.
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