…says Cabinet complicit in breach of Procurement Act
There is a $13.5M difference in the amount that Cabinet approved and the contracted amount for the feasibility study for the construction of a new bridge across the Demerara River.
This is according to former Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall who said that the contract awarded was for $148M, but $161M was taken without authorization from Demerara Habour Bridge Corporation (DHBC).
“No one has, thus far, accounted for the $13.5M difference,” Nandlall stated.
He explained that worse yet, any procurement of such sums, not done in accordance with the Procurement Act, is absolutely unlawful.
“The expenditure of those funds, therefore, are not only in violation of the Procurement Act, but are also in violation of a series of criminal statutory and common law provisions and principles. The entire Cabinet is intimately and inextricably complicit. This transaction must constitute the most vulgar abuse of the laws of this land by a Government,” Nandlall stated.
Nanldall said this is just the latest ‘procurement vulgarity’ to hit Government, noting the D’Urban Park fiasco; the drugs bond rental; the fertilizer contract and then the $506M single-sourcing of drugs and pharmaceuticals for the Guyana Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC); and then recently the $366M HDM Labs Inc. scandal.
On Thursday, Chief Whip Gail Teixeira submitted a letter to SOCU requesting the investigation along with the findings from a probe conducted by the Public Procurement Commission (PPC) into the deal.
In her letter to the head of SOCU, Sydney James, Teixeira said that the report was being submitted with a view to instituting criminal charges against the Minister of Public Infrastructure David Patterson.
The PPC in its investigation found that Patterson’s request to Cabinet for approval of the contract was not forwarded through the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB).
“It is criminal. Minister Patterson has managed to engraft the entire Cabinet in a joint criminal enterprise. Constitutionally, Cabinet’s responsibility is collective. In the commission of a crime, they would all be acting in concert and aiding and abetting each other,” Nandlall stated.
James has assured that a request for investigation into irregularities surrounding the contract awarded in December 2016 to LievenseCSO Engineering Contracting BV, a Dutch company, is engaging the police.
According to James, Teixeira’s request for an investigation has also been brought to the attention of Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan; Acting Commissioner of Police, David Ramnarine and the Police Legal Advisor, Claudette Singh.
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.
LievenseCSO was one of 23 companies that responded to a November 2015 advertisement from the Ministry for the feasibility study for the new Demerara River Bridge.
Twelve companies were shortlisted and were requested to submit detailed proposals. Only two companies submitted detailed proposals as requested.
The Ministry noted that having reviewed the two proposals, an evaluation 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”.
The Ministry admitted that an unsolicited proposal was received from LievenseCSO Infrastructure & Environment with Econovision and Ace Consultancy.
The Ministry stated that the proposal satisfied the government’s requirements. Further, it was noted that given the relevant time constraints, it was felt that it was in Guyana’s interest to take advantage of the proposal.
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