A few weeks ago, the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB) was rocked with allegations that one of its most senior staffers was allegedly fingered in a plot to tamper with a bid document involving a project of the Ministry of Public Works.
The Senior Procurement Officer was alleged to have entered an off-limits room that had sensitive tender documents stored and removed one, with the sole intention to make illegal changes.
He was able to make changes to two of three copies.
Someone reportedly blew the whistle and senior officials who reviewed the security cameras during an immediate probe by the Ministry of Finance, which has jurisdiction, indeed caught him entering the restricted room. He was seen with a bag later.
The Procurement Officer is alleged to have made changes to a bid document for a road project, said to worth over $100M.
The matter has been handed over to the police. The Procurement Officer was sent on administrative leave.
Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan, has made it clear from his information something irregular happened and that it is something that this administration does not tolerate.
NPTAB is the body through which bids for government contracts are opened, recorded and processed. There had been accusations of wrongdoings in the past with the Coalition Government announcing plans to clean up the system.
Guyana would have lost millions of dollars over time because of rackets there.
The Public Procurement Commission, as the regulator, had reportedly expressed alarm over the incident and the fact it was not alerted sooner to the incident.
There has not been an official statement from NPTAB.
However, there is a shocking tape that has now surfaced in which a voice, identified as the Procurement Officer, meets with a work colleague shortly after the matter came to light, to urge him to hold his composure.
The work colleague, whose name was mentioned on the tape, admitted on the tape that he was given $20,000 on the day that the Procurement Officer was allowed to enter the restricted room.
The almost eight-minute tape indicates that the staffers were careful when they met, knowing that an investigation involving the Deputy Finance Secretary of the Ministry of Finance was underway.
Below is a transcript of that recording which is said to be in the hands of the police:
For sake of brevity, the Procurement Officer is (PO) while his colleague is (Coll).
PO: What going on?
Coll: Me meself want fuh know wha guying on.
PO: You had any conversations…leh we talk the truth…If there is a problem…me and you will confront each other…you understand? And me ain’t want you tell me wan ting…
Coll: Me ain’t had no conversation with nobody.
PO: Nobody ain’t call you yesterday afternoon? When I call you, u ain’t answer your phone…You probably think ah calling you to look for documents or something…
Coll: Me phone went in me bag.
PO: Oh s%&t
Coll: … and I beat out. Is wha really going on?
PO: Hear wha happen. Like somebody, after I ask you for the document and I keep searching for the document…I left and I went out. And I don’t know what happen. Like somebody called and seh they got me on camera and see me and you go in the room and dis and da and all kind of thing, right?
Anyhow, you ain’t got no problem…and am…suh minister (??) get involve. Berkley (Wickham, Chairman of NPTAB) get involve…the DFS (Deputy Finance Secretary…Miss Dummett and all of them. But nobody ain’t call you and tell you anything?
Coll: Nobody ain’t call me and tell me anything. The only thing the DFS’ secretary call me and tell me must come over…want see me…suh me ain’t know wha is going on.
PO: So when you go over wha happen?
Coll: No, me na fo over yet you know… later on down in the day. Suh me na know wha really going on…that is why I seh I gotta to ask you.
PO: Dem see something on document. Dem want to know if I tek out some document. ..tamper with some document. Fuh wha he name and some kind of foolishness right? So dem must be asking if you touch it, if you give me any document because I carry you, but I ain’t carry you fuh search for duh. Remember, I was looking for this financial document for dis lady and tumble up all the boxes.
Coll: Remember I beat out and you tell me you will lock up and suh.
PO: Yeah, yeah but when I go thru the door I had a bag. A book, a plastic bag with magazines inside. So I go through the door with duh. Suh dem feel I pass through with …documents because somebody tamper with it. He (contractor) submit he document just suh. Remember many times people does submit documents, loose up loose up…Some documents does deh scrawly. Some document does come like a piece of cloth…suh is not necessary that something tamper with it. People does deh loosing out deh documents and forget this and forget that and staple it back. You understand meh?
Coll: Wha really going on man because yuh done know me ain’t really ting…
PO: …because somebody inform me how come you give (Coll) $20,000?
Coll: When you tell me about that I don’t know nothing about that. Me na tell nobody, because remember you come, I had the bird, I go downstairs to look after de bird.
PO: …and I didn’t even say how much I give you.
Coll: …and I ask you this hay ($20,000) fuh what and you tell me hold onto to that and whatever. And then you can call me and tell me duh, dat is why I want know what going on.
PO: …I don’t know what is going on. Somebody tell me I deh pun camera. Like somebody try fuh set me up. But you ain’t gat to fraid nothing. You just got to say what is up. If they ask if you see a plastic bag, say yes. When me come down, I did had a plastic bag. I went in (the room), I had a magazine or something. Say ah went through it and left it on one of dem box and I left and go in the room.
If dem ask, because is magazines I had. But you did not see when I come down.
Suh somebody trying fuh do some stupidness. It done went to the minister and they want to mek a big, big story. But Miss Dummett went over. And she was part of the meeting, but she never come back and say nothing, you know. She is like she is a li’l upstart banna.
Wha he name, Wickham shine me. He call me this morning and say this is wha going on. Because he vex because dem ain’t call he. Is Miss Dummett, the DFS. Me nah know who from Public Works and ….(Inaudible)..suh dem have dem own discussion.
Coll: After you tell me this morning, I deh studying…I say deh will call me….
PO: But I want to know how the person know I give you $20,000 because me ain’t seh…I just seh look hold on pun dis.
Coll: The only person I see this morning is you…
PO: Hear wha happen…the Chairman (Wickham) is saying he don’t know if he was part of it, if dem man set you up fuh set me up. Dat is what the Chairman is saying…If is you, because he see you and me on the camera. Dem call he late yesterday afternoon, I left late, I left about six of clock. I see the man come over vex right. Normally he say you wukking late. He ain’t say nothing. The man vex.
The man call me phone early this morning and say hey this is what’s up. You understand what ah tell you? So I want you give you a heads up, you know what I mean? I don’t want nobody mess around the job and stupidness like that. But hear wha happen. They get a lot of people out deh want get at me. You understand I telling you?
They want get at me because they think I blocking deh shot out dey. Some people who is PPP, some contractors and suh, they talking some stupidness about me and dis and da and me ain’t giving this body contract like if me got power to give anybody any contract and dem stupidness.
You understand what I telling you?
So anyway, you just keep your composure; maintain your story…We went down, and we went down to search for thing, because is whole week you asking me.
Coll: I remember you ask me about it.
PO: Right, right,., because when I search, I did not see the financial report. She keep begging me all the time. You understand me. Me na know who deh behind this thing but this thing we got to be careful…We got be careful especially when you going in and going out deh. Anybody ask you for documents and thing, you got be careful. Because I think somebody, some set up along the way.
Coll: Lemme kick out hey suh…next thing dem see we.
PO: You lemme know anything.
Coll: Yeah, yeah.
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