Dec 05, 2020 News
– One found to be more than double original contract price
Kaieteur News – A precursory examination of two contracts that were awarded under the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) by the APNU+AFC regime, four months after the 2020 elections were held, has shown massive variations. According to Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha, the former regime had awarded the two contracts to preferred individuals who subsequently made significant cost adjustments without receiving all the relevant approvals.
During a press conference held at his office yesterday, the Minister told members of the media that he examined two contracts for the operation, servicing and monitoring of NDIA hydraulic excavators for Region Four. One contract was awarded on July 1, 2020 for $64,716,350. The contractor was expected to supervise and operate the NDIA machine and provide fuel.
The Minister said that the original bill of quantities had budgeted for approximately 44,000 rods of channel to be dug and 75,000 cubic yards of canal to be excavated. He said that a request was made for variation to the cost of the contract to an additional $46M even though the contractor did not complete at least 90 percent of the work. In fact, the contractor claimed to have cleared 25,000 rods out of 44,000 and dug less than 12,000 cubic yards of canal.
The Minister noted that before a variation is done, the contractor is expected to pause works and submit a separate document which explains the state of affairs and why more funds would be needed to continue. The Minister said he was surprised to learn that NDIA still went ahead and extended the contract without this justification. “This just goes to show how these entities have been operating over the years,” the Minister said while disclosing that Auditor General, Deodat Sharma has been asked to investigate the matter and provide advice.
The Minister also exposed another glaring instance which showed serious contract variations. In this regard, he noted that the former government awarded a contract for similar works on July 6, 2020 to the tune of $34M. The budgeted bill of quantities stated that the contractor had 28 000 rods of channel to clear and 30,000 cubic yards of canal to excavate.
The Minister said that surprisingly, this contract was extended by NDIA even though the contractor only completed 19,880 rods and cleared 21,300 cubic yards. The Minister said that the contract was extended to the tune of an additional $35M.
“…This is cause for concern hence, I have sent this to the Auditor General for advice. Places like NDIA and others, we are looking seriously to re-vamp their operations because they are getting millions of dollars in funding and we need to get value for money,” expressed the concerned Minister.
The official said it is clear that there have been breaches in the Procurement Act and, as such, he intends to take several measures to ensure that the state of affairs involving preferred contractors, lawless extensions for contracts and manipulation of the system for the benefit of families is changed for good. The Minister said there is no doubt that the current system is one that is too open to corruption.
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