The Ministry of Public Infrastructure yesterday responded to media reports that detail procurement breaches in the award of contract to a Dutch company that conducted a feasibility study for a new Demerara River Bridge.
At no time in the press release did the Ministry mention the report from the Public Procurement Commission (PPC) which investigated the circumstances surrounding the award of the contract.
Instead, MPI said that it rejects and strongly condemns the misinformation campaign by the Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo and what amounts to unwarranted attacks on the integrity of dedicated public servants.
The deal signed in December 2016 between the Demerara Harbour Bridge Company (DHBC) and LievenseCSO Engineering Contracting BV is now at the centre of corruption claims. The PPC noted that the reference tender was for $148M.
The PPC in its investigation found that the Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson’s request to Cabinet for approval of the contract was not forwarded through the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB).
Based on the PPC report, the submission by Patterson, directly to Cabinet, was in breach of the Procurement Act.
The PPC found that the procurement procedure used to select the company did not meet the requirement of any of the methods described in the Procurement Act.
Additionally, the PPC probe highlighted that the General Manager of the DHBC, Rawlston Adams signed the agreement without the approval of the DHBC Board.
The Infrastructure Ministry’s release did not address this finding.
The Ministry stated that prior to receiving the proposal from LievenseCSO, a lengthy procurement process ‘was faithfully followed which did not yield suitable results’.
“There is and has been an urgent need for a new bridge across the Demerara River and government is cognizant of this and has taken every decision, within the law, to ensure that the realization of a new bridge is not unduly delayed. The people of Guyana deserve nothing less,” the Ministry’s statement noted.
For the most part, the MPI statement corroborated the findings of the PPC report in relation to the process prior to the contract signing.
Chronicling the events that led to the contract award, MPI stated that in November 2015, an advertisement was placed for the feasibility study for the new Demerara River Bridge. An Evaluation Committee was established by the NPTAB.
Twenty-three companies responded. Based on the Ministry’s release, the Committee which Adams was a part of, reviewed all 23 submissions and shortlisted 12 companies who were requested to submit detailed proposals.
Two companies submitted detailed proposals as requested.
The Ministry noted that having reviewed the two proposals, the Committee deemed one of the two detailed submissions as being inconsistent with what was required and the other far in excess of budget, even after negotiations with the bidder.
Consequently, the Ministry noted, with the agreement of the NPTAB, it annulled the tender process.
According to the Ministry, this then left the Government in a most peculiar situation of having faithfully and dutifully executed the outlined procurement process and having yielded zero result for a project which is of national importance.
Around the same time of reaching agreement with the NPTAB on the annulment of the process, MPI admitted that an unsolicited proposal was received from LievenseCSO Infrastructure & Environment with Econovision and Ace Consultancy, one of the 23 shortlisted firms.
The Ministry stated that after received a proposal which satisfied the government’s requirements for the project of national importance and given the relevant time constraints, it was felt that it was in Guyana’s interest to take advantage of the LievenseCSO proposal.
According to the Ministry, the proposal provided the full suite of professional services required for the feasibility study.
The Ministry explained, “having regard to the fact that this was an unsolicited proposal for a matter for which a suitable candidate was not found after a rigorous and lengthy tender process and there being no established procurement rules for dealing with unsolicited proposals, a Cabinet Paper was prepared on the matter on November 18, 2016, and submitted for Cabinet’s consideration.”
MPI stated that Cabinet considered the matter and, on November 22, 2016, took the decision to approve $103,978,580 being used from the Demerara Harbour Bridge Corporation for funding of Stage 1 of the study and a further $57,535,740 being used from the Demerara Harbour Bridge Corporation for the funding of Stage 2.
The PPC conducted the investigation of the contract award process based on a request from Opposition Chief Whip, Gail Teixeira.
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