Guyana largest development partner, the Inter-American Development Bank Group (IDBG) is not pleased with the nation’s approach to project implementation.
In fact, the Bank has flagged this as a major area of concern.
In one of its reports, the IDB said that in the past two decades, much of its attention was on financing infrastructure projects for Guyana. It focused on this since Guyana’s other development partners provide significant resources for social sectors, governance and disaster risk management.
But after conducting a series of evaluations, the IDB found that the weak institutional capacity of executing agencies, especially in procurement and monitoring and evaluation, can be deemed the main obstacle to implementing projects in a manner that does not expose integrity risks. The Bank noted that this issue has progressed for years without any indication that there would be a change in the future.
The Bank was also critical of the Government’s lack of current and reliable data for projects as well as the country’s needs. The IDB lamented that the absence of this data makes it difficult to effectively plan and implement priority investments and programmes for the country.
The Inter-American Development Bank highlighted that three structural factors also contributed to slow project implementation in a significant number of investment loans and grants that it granted to Guyana during the 2012 to 2016 period.
It said that these are low Project Executing Units (PEUs) capacity and staff turnover; challenges in procurement; and lack of scale and capacity of the private sector (especially in infrastructure). The IDB said that Guyana also has difficulty attracting and maintaining qualified staff for the PEUs that implement Bank projects.
It said that the pool of qualified candidates is limited because of the high emigration rate of university-educated citizens and because the salaries offered in most PEUs are not always competitive. Additionally, the Bank pointed out that procurement challenges in the programme included difficulties in the tendering of contracts, shortcomings in bidding documents, lack of interest from international contractors, inadequate procurement planning, and difficulties in managing large contracts.
The IDB also noted that the operations it financed in Guyana are subject to a dual procurement system that adds extra steps and increases the time to complete most procurement processes.
It said that while it does not collect data on the number of bidders competing for each contract, the local pool of firms qualified to handle large infrastructure works is likely very small, given the size of the economy.
“For example, operations in the transport sector faced implementation challenges due to the limited number and capacity of local contractors; and in the housing sector, the shortage of contractors/developers interested in building low-income housing in scattered locations required the Bank to forgo competitive bidding in favor of direct procurement of high-performing contractors.”
The Bank in conclusion, strongly recommended that the government develop and institutionalize a project management system that combines core procurement functions across programs. It said that a well-staffed, professional procurement unit for all IDB-financed projects could improve the efficiency and integrity of procurement processes while lowering the supervision burden on the Bank’s fiduciary specialists.
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