The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) yesterday learnt that an American company, Tactical Supplier Inc., was contracted by the Ministry of Home Affairs (now Public Security) in 2014 to supply an industrial washer and dryer valued at $7.542M for the Guyana Prison Service. To date those items are still to be received.
To the annoyance of PAC chairman, Irfaan Ali, the committee was also told that the company was selected by way of sole sourcing and this was approved by the National Procurement and Tender Board Authority (NPTAB).
Appearing before the committee was Permanent Secretary of that Ministry, Daneilla Mc Calmon, who told the PAC that the American company conducted business with her ministry before and there were no issues.
The chairman sought answers as to why the company was paid the full amount for the two pieces of appliances and what steps are being taken by the ministry to receive the items or have the monies returned.
Ms Mc Calmon explained that when she assumed the office of PS in early 2015 this was an issue that confronted her. She said that numerous attempts were made to contact a Mr. King that the ministry was dealing with when the contract was first awarded.
The PS said that the company gave an assurance that the items will be shipped to Georgetown but to date that shipment has not arrived. Ms Mc Calmon told the PAC that after the shipment did not arrive as was agreed additional attempts were made to contact the company.
It was at this juncture that the supplier stopped taking calls from the ministry. Ali enquired if the intervention of the United States of America embassy in Guyana was sought and was answered in the negative.
The chairman advised the PS to write to the American ambassador in an effort to contact the supplier to have the matter resolved. He said that he suspects that if the shoes were on the other foot no effort would have been spared by that American organization to recover their money.
Ali said the purchase was made since 2014 and to date the supplier has not honoured his contractual obligation. The chairman asked what effect the non supply of the appliances is having on the prison service and was told that it is affecting the Camp Street prison.
Proffering the response, PS Mc Calmon said that although the prison has a similar washer and dryer the new pieces of equipment would have made life ‘easier’ for prisoners who now have to do their washing by hand.
Another PAC member, Nigel Dharamlall, questioned the rational for the full payment to Tactical Supplier Inc. despite the fact that the items were not received.
The former PS of the Ministry of Indigenous Affairs said that he would have thought that it would have been prudent to make a part payment to the company; and then the remaining amount when the items were supplied.
He said that this points to a breakdown in the financial affairs at that ministry. Dharamlall questioned the competence of the ministry that is responsible for the Guyana Police Force and believes that such a situation does not project the right image of that ministry.
Another member suggested that someone from the ministry, travel to the USA and demand the equipment or the money back. The PS at this point said that she had even called the company while on holiday in the USA.
The PS said that to her surprise her called was answered since she was calling from a US registered number. The woman said the person on the other end of the line gave another commitment to provide the equipment; however that was the last time she heard from Tactical Supplier Inc. since all other calls from Guyana and the USA continue to go unanswered.
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