…Mayor Chase-Green elected chairperson
City Mayor Patricia Chase-Green was yesterday elected the new chairperson of the state-owned Guyana Water Inc. (GWI) during a special meeting.
The new Deputy Chairman is engineer, David Dewar.
The other members of the board are Savitri Singh-Sharma; Ryan Belgrave; Samantha Fedee of the Ministry of Indigenous People’s Affairs; Danwattie Sukhdeo; Gavin Todd; Jeffrey Thomas, Permanent Sectary of the Ministry of Communities, Emil Mc Garrell and Mavis Benn. The ex-officio member is the CEO.
The new board has its work cut out as it is reportedly set to start investigating reports of alleged corruption at the entity.
Officials said that the new board met yesterday after almost eight months without a chairperson and with the life of the board expiring some time back.
In October, accountant Nigel Hinds resigned as chairman amidst deep troubles within the board then and clashes with Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Richard Van West Charles.
Hinds said then that he was not able to perform his duties to the best of his ability.
”I cannot perform in the best interest of GWI staff, GWI Shareholders and other Stakeholders of GWI as a rubber stamp Chairman of GWI, thus, my resignation.”
The tension between Hinds and GWI’s Managing Director Dr. Richard Van West Charles took a turn for the worse when technicians of the water authority attempted to check the connection of the water well located at the Queen’s Atlantic Investment Inc. Ruimveldt facility which is under the direction of Dr. Ranjisinghi “Bobby” Ramroop, a close friend of former president, Bharrat Jagdeo.
However, the men were asked to stand down, leading to clash between the CEO and the Chairman.
There were accusations of procurement irregularities against senior staffers of GWI, including the CEO. The company is charged with managing several wells and water distribution systems in the country.
With billions of dollars being handled by the entity, annually, state auditors over the years have been flagging a significant number of contracts.
The David Granger administration, after being voted in following the May 2015 general elections, had vowed to clean up.
However, a new board and management were not allowed to settle fully when trouble raised its head.
Minister of Communities, Ronald Bulkan, yesterday reportedly asked the new board to get ready to accommodate a request from him on “issues relating to integrity and anti-corruption”.
Sources of the board said that more likely the issue has to do with the minister’s unhappiness with how GWI is being managed and more specifically with the transparent nature of some procurement.
In May, it was reported that the ministry was preparing to file a complaint with the Public Procurement Commission (PPC). The matter had to do with the procurement of some water meters and was reportedly the subject of a Cabinet discussion.
A number of Government officials disclosed that GWI had gone to tender for a number of contracts, including water meters and some parts.
The tenders for the meters were opened, evaluated and a recommendation was made for a contractor to be awarded.
However, Minister of Communities, Ronald Bulkan, whose portfolio includes GWI, wanted to satisfy himself about the accuracy of the recommendations for the award of the contract.
The matter was later taken to Cabinet.
GWI’s officials questioned the authority of Bulkan himself to investigate the contract.
There were also questions about Bulkan’s authority to even ask GWI’s Procurement Department for back up documents to determine how the evaluation system was done.
It was contended that GWI, although falling under the Ministry of Communities, does not have to answer directly to the ministry.
The minister was said to also be investigating a number of other GWI contracts.
Contacted then, Bulkan explained that as minister with responsibilities for water, he was given a number of tender documents to take to Cabinet.
While declining to name any contractor or give details of amounts, Bulkan indicated that he did request Cabinet’s Sub-Committee to further examine the tenders to verify the recommendations for award of the contracts.
He said that he considered this as necessary, given that many lower bidders were deemed to be non-responsive and thereby disqualified.
There is nothing wrong with this except that several discrepancies were noted and raised questions over the evaluation process.
Reportedly, the minister’s concerns were raised where in one case of five bidders, the four lowest were deemed non-responsive and the recommendation was for award of the contract to the highest bidder. In the case of the five bidders mentioned, the recommendation for the award of a contract that was almost three times the lowest bidder, Kaieteur News was told.
Dr Van West Charles had insisted that the proper procurement process had been followed.
”As far as I am aware, all the procedures set out were followed with the technical and Evaluation Committee completing their work and sending it off to NPTAB.”
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