…Region blames recording of inaccurate minutes
The Regional Council of Region 6 East Berbice-Corentyne has been awarding contracts to the highest bidders instead of the most competitive. The Auditor General’s (AG) office found this development when an audit of the region was done in 2015.
According to the AG’s report, an examination of the region’s tender documents revealed that seventy-nine contracts valued at $147.586M were not awarded to the lowest or most competitive bidder. It was in fact awarded to the most expensive bid from those that were submitted.
This is in clear violation of the Tender Board and Procurement Act of which the Regional Authorities are signatories to. The act was designed to prevent malpractices.
During a recent Public Accounts Committee (PAC) session in Parliament Chambers the matter was discussed and the PAC Chairman, Irfan Ali questioned why this was happening when Regional Officers are familiar with the rules of tendering.
Regional Executive Officer (REO) Kim Williams Stephens stated that the person who was taking the minutes at the tender board meeting had inadvertently written the wrong figure in the minutes, hence the mistake.
“REO are you telling me that because the minutes were badly taken this was allowed to happen?” Ali queried.
He said that it therefore means that the person who was taking the minutes had to be changed, and reminded the REO about the importance of the Tender Board minutes.
Further ,the Chairman stated that despite who was taking the minutes at the time of the Tender Board meeting the REO is ultimately responsible for that and its accuracy. Stephens said that she agreed and that she is now reviewing the minutes at the end of meetings and signing them off to ensure that what is stated is indeed factual.
Additionally, Stephens said that there might have been a legitimate reason why the highest bidder was chosen, but because the minutes were not properly recorded she will not be in a position to defend what has happened.
Ali said while he understands that, he finds it inconceivable that 79 contracts were treated the same way and that this had to be addressed by the region or else action will have to be taken.
According to Stephens, the Regional Tender Board is now in compliance with the procurement Act and reasons and justifications for awarding contracts are now being recorded correctly in their minutes.
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