– contract awarded to “non-compliant” supplier
The manufacturer of a number of radios supplied to the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) is complaining that his company was rejected when it tendered for a multi-million dollar contract last year.
According to BARRETT Communications, an Australian-headquartered firm, it tendered for the supply of new radio equipment for the 2015 General and Regional Elections last year, but the order was strangely cancelled.
Instead, the contract was awarded to Mobile Authority, a Water Street-registered business owned by Michael Brasse, which was not the official local dealer.
BARRETT has a local partner in Guyana – Advanced Office Systems, which it used to tender for the contract.
Those radio purchases are now the subject of a major investigation by the Audit Office of Guyana.
The manufacturer’s European office wrote Kaieteur News over the weekend clarifying the role it played in tender.
“With respect to the procurement for the 2015 election, we did indeed tender through the Advanced Office Systems for the supply of new radio equipment for the 2015 Guyana elections.”
According to Andrew Burt, General Manager of BARRETT’s European office, GECOM cancelled the order.
The manufacturer made it clear it was not involved in the supply of the radios. The delivery would have happened days if not hours before elections.
As far as BARRETT is concerned, the supply of the radios, which were to be used by GECOM to communicate with outlying areas during the elections period, were given to a business that not compliant with the specifications.
“We had subsequently been informed that another OEM (original equipment manufacture), non-compliant with the tender specification, was inexplicably selected and purchased.”
BARRETT’s claims over the weekend would not only raise questions as to where Mobile Authority sourced the radios from, but whether GECOM officials, including its accountant and procurement personnel, conducted due diligence.
Not ordering from an authorized supplier or agent has implications on warranties and even spare parts, among other things.
GECOM is supposed to ensure that the equipment comes with the necessary warranties and even security of spare parts.
Investigators from the Audit Office of Guyana are currently probing the radio purchases which were delivered shortly before the elections, but apparently were never put to use. GECOM has declined to comment, saying that the probe is ongoing.
There are questions on whether the radios are even working. Last year, Brasse’s businesses collected around $290M in payments for supplying items to GECOM, sparking suspicions of sole sourcing, a form of public procurement which has been heavily frowned on in recent times because of the possibilities of corruption involved in the process.
The Audit Office of Guyana started an investigation two weeks ago to determine the procurement procedures used and whether the radios can be accounted for.
The audit is also to determine whether the equipment is working.
Shortly before the elections, on April 5th, 2015, Mobile Authority was paid $99,560,000. This was for HF radios. From indications and GECOM’s insiders, Mobile Authority and its sister companies, M-Tech Business Solutions, and to an extent, Mibra Trading, received the hog’s share of contracts from GECOM for the May 11th, 2015 election – some $290M.
Payment records from Government suggest that some amount of contract-splitting was involved, so as not to alert auditors and others who would have been watching.
In addition to supplying things like photo paper, stationery and office furniture, Brasse even ventured to delivering electrical items.
His transactions eased to a trickle after the elections when a new Government, under President David Granger, took office.
With regards to the radios that were delivered, there are indications that while GECOM had asked for 50 HF radios, it received 20 of those obsolete Barrett radios and 30 of what is known as ICOM radios.
Assuming that each Barrett radio that was delivered last year cost $2M each, it appeared that GECOM paid at least seven times the purchase price for each ICOM radio.
The ICOM radio is available on the local market for around $300,000 each.
A list of questions had been sent to GECOM’s public relations department, but the entity had said the state audit was ongoing and it would not comment.
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