Sep 13, 2016 News
There are indications that a quantity of communication radio sets supplied to the Guyana Elections
Commission (GECOM) for last year’s elections was bought since 2006.
That meant that someone held onto the radios all that time before they were dumped on GECOM in what appears to be a well orchestrated deal.
Over the weekend, the Australian manufacturer, BARRETT Communications, said that the radios were of the older BARRETT 2040 series.
“BARRETT Communications state, for the record, the radio equipment pictured are almost certainly from a much earlier equipment purchase in 2006 and for a product that officially ceased production in 2009.”
The disclosures by the manufacturer would raise shocking questions over the internal controls of GECOM and how the radios were allowed in.
There are unconfirmed reports that the radios were offered to GECOM since 2006 but were rejected as another supplier had already made a delivery.
The BARRETT radios were part of a $100M order by GECOM last year.
The approval for the purchase happened days before the May 11, 2015 elections but despite the urgency GECOM had proposed for the radios, they were reportedly never put into use.
State auditors have launched a probe to determine what procurement procedures were used and whether the radios are working.
From indications, shortly before the elections, GECOM signaled intentions to acquire radios to be used for communications with its operations in outlying areas.
A few suppliers were asked to submit quotes.
However, GECOM ignored the quotation by BARRETT and its local partner, Advanced Office Systems.
Instead, a business called Mobile Authority was chosen. It is owned by Water Street businessman, Michael Brasse, who from indications received almost $290M in contracts last year from GECOM alone.
Brasse used two of his other registered businesses, Mibra Trading and M-Tech Business Solutions, for those contracts. 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.
Over the weekend, BARRETT said that while it submitted a bid for the supply of the radios, it was not considered.
As a matter of fact, the order was cancelled. Of course, Mobile Authority got it.
BARRETT wrote Kaieteur News over the weekend clarifying the role it played in that 2015 tender for radios.
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 was not compliant with the specifications.
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.
GECOM has declined to comment, saying that the probe is ongoing.
The radio contract is also sending state auditors looking in another direction- whether GECOM’s procurement involved the highly questionable process of sole sourcing.
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.
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, 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 declined to answer on the grounds that the state audit was ongoing.
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