Sep 19, 2016 News
– still spent $100M to buy more
As top officials continue to remain silent in the face of accusations of corruption, insiders want state auditors to start looking for evidence that the Guyana Elections Commissions (GECOM) had enough radios on hand for the May 11th, 2015 polls.
Yet the entity, which is tasked with managing elections in the country, still went ahead and decided to order 50 more.
Those “new” radios, from all indications, were never used. They only came a few days before elections and it would have been logistically impossible to deploy and install them in the outlying regions for use on May 11 and the days immediately after elections.
It is the belief that those radios, bought since 2006, were dumped on GECOM in a deal involving officials there.
GECOM has remained silent on several published stories, only saying that it cannot comment as there is an active investigation by the Audit Office of Guyana.
According to top GECOM officials over the weekend, the allegations have rocked the entity.
Already, several staffers suspected of leaking information were reportedly sent on leave while others have been shifted around.
GECOM’s records indicate that it had in its possession 20-plus High Frequency (HF) radios similar to what were delivered last year. These have the capabilities of sending signals over long distances and are ideal for use in the remote areas in the hinterlands. It requires a base station, antennas, power supply and other attachments. These were not used.
Shockingly, as part of the $100M order, GECOM collected 20 more of those Barrett-made base radios. The model was discontinued since 2009, leaving GECOM facing questions over warranties and spare parts.
GECOM also collected a number of smaller ICOM 718 – 30 of them to round off the 50 pieces it wanted for the 2015 elections. Again these were not used.
From information provided by top GECOM officials who are upset at the revelations, it can be concluded that GECOM had enough radios to deploy across the country before it entered into that $100M deal.
On top of that, GECOM also had in stock over 50 radios which could be carried in special backpacks over long distance and mobilized without the need for antennas.
The radio purchases scandal has been rocking GECOM which over the years has had a whistle-clean reputation.
Following the breaking of the story of the radio purchases, the Australian manufacturer, Barrett Communications, through its European office, distanced itself from last year $100M transaction by GECOM.
Barrett said it did tender but from its information, the order was cancelled by GECOM.
From all indication the radio in GECOM’s possession was from a 2006 purchase.
Barrett complained that it is convinced that handing the contract to Mobile Authority breached procurement procedures.
Just over a week before the May 11, 2015 elections, the then administration of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) approved $99.5M for the purchase of 50 high frequency (HF) radios.
From documents seen by Kaieteur News, local suppliers were asked to submit quotes in mid-April 2015. Cabinet granted the no-objection to the award of the contract that same month, April, leaving GECOM just days to have the supplier order and import the radios.
GECOM insiders and Government officials insisted that based on experience and other factors, it would have been nigh impossible for the radios to have been delivered by the supplier; checked to ensure that they are operational and then delivered to the outlying areas in time for use on Elections Day, May 11, 2015.
What makes observers and others more convinced that the whole deal was a clear plot to dump old radios, that had been brought years before, was the fact the equipment needed installation in the hinterland areas.
“These radios need a base station, cables, pipes, a power supply and then technicians to install them. How possible is it to order them, have them delivered in the country, clear Customs, delivered and checked by GECOM and then deployed?” a Government official familiar with the situation asked last week.
That $100M contract was awarded under questionable circumstances to Mobile Authority, a business owned by Water Street businessman, Michael Brasse.
Brasse’s Mobile Authority and his two other businesses, M-Tech Business Solutions and Mibra Trading, were awarded almost $290M in contracts last year. He supplied toners, stationery, office equipment, electrical items, Duracell batteries and even furniture, raising suspicions of sole sourcing.
From payment records, it appeared that several of the payments could be linked to what is known as contract splitting, an arrangements where contracts are deliberately kept below a certain amount to avoid attracting attention from oversight bodies like the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB).
Several purchases for toners- for printers and copiers- by GECOM last year, supplied by Brasse is also said to also be under the radar of state auditors.
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