A state audit into a $100M purchase of several communication radio sets by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) for the May 11, 2015 polls has been expanded to include other transactions.
According to Auditor General, Deodat Sharma, his investigators will be looking at transactions dating back to a few months before and after the elections.
While Sharma declined to delve into details yesterday, he made it clear that a number of other questionable payments have now come to the attention of his office.
Several weeks ago, the Audit Office launched a probe into a $99.5M purchase of communication radios for the elections.
GECOM, shortly before the elections, argued that radios were urgently needed to help staffers working in remote offices communicate on election days.
Shockingly, from all indications, the radios came too late. It was never deployed. Tender documents indicated clearly that what was asked for, in terms of specifications, was not what was delivered. The radios appeared to be from a model that was disconnected in 2009 by the manufacturer.
At least one major company, Massy Technologies, has denied submitting a quote for the radios.
The disclosures of the probe sparked shocking revelations by GECOM insiders which pointed to hundreds of millions of dollars of other questionable spending last year.
Tender documents from GECOM show evidence of trail of a total disregard when it comes to managing taxpayers’ dollars.
The payments of millions of dollars in inventory and services have a pattern of not only collusion within GECOM but with contractors too.
Documents indicated that staffers, in all likelihood, colluded to deliberately split contracts to avoid Cabinet’s scrutiny.
Payments included for the radios, Duracell batteries, photo paper, pliers, toners and host of other things.
Of an estimated $700M in contracts last year, GECOM doled out almost 40 percent to the businesses of two brothers- Michael and Mahendra Brasse. From all indications, the proper procurement procedures were not followed.
GECOM capitalised on the fact that the elections were early and gambled on the fact that the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB) would not have been paying close attention to the tender documents submitted for approval, because of the urgency.
Authorised dealers for products like Canon (printers and toners and photo paper), were sidelined for others.
There was little evidence that tenders were advertised.
Rather, for the majority of the tenders, GECOM used a three-quote system and recommended the business they wanted to win.
In almost all the contract documents seen, the prices paid for items were far above what they were being retailed for.
A number of local businesses have come out and complained about being sidelined from GECOM’s contracts.
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