Sep 22, 2021 News
Kaieteur News – The National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA)—a department of the Ministry of Agriculture under the auspices of substantive Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha, has denied any involvement by the two budget agencies as it relates to the repeated retendering of projects to be executed under that agency and has instead blamed the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB).
NDIA was at the time responding to two articles by the Kaieteur News, captioned “Collusion with Agriculture Ministry bids leads to unfair competition…repeated retendering gives edge to preferred bidders, proves costly for others” dated September 18, 2021 and “Gov’t retenders four times for item supplied by one company” dated September 19, 2021.
The government agency in seeking to distance itself from the brouhaha did not deny the retendering of the project, but conveyed that any such decisions would have been taken at the level of the NPTAB.
The Ministry defended itself in a public missive on Monday, asserting that, “by virtue of the Procurement Act 2003, public procurement of goods and services up to a certain limit is done exclusively by the NPTAB, a body that is independent, separate and apart from both the Ministry of Agriculture and the NDIA.”
It was pointed out, that the NPTAB has its own employees and the bid received through the tendering process, are assessed by evaluators drawn from across the public sector by the NPTAB.
The Ministry said additionally, that indeed, “no evaluators are drawn from the sector whose bid is being evaluated” and as such, neither “the Ministry of Agriculture nor the NDIA plays any role whatsoever in the tendering of contracts.”
Further distancing itself from the retendering practice, the NDIA outlined that as it relates to retendering and rejection of bids, “Section 40 of the Procurement Act 2003 states that “(1) Subject to approval by the National Board, if so specified in the solicitation documents, the appropriate board may reject all tenders at any time prior to the acceptance of a tender. The appropriate board shall upon request, communicate to any supplier or contractor that submitted a tender the grounds for its rejection of all tenders, but is not required to justify those grounds. (2) The appropriate board shall incur no liability, solely by virtue of its invoking subsection (1), towards suppliers or contractors that have submitted tenders. (3) Notice of the rejection of all tenders shall be given promptly to all suppliers or contractors that submitted tenders.”
As such, the NDIA was adamant that neither “the Ministry of Agriculture nor the NDIA cannot request retendering or rejection of bids,” since “it is only the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB) that can do so.”
According to the government agency, “the NDIA only provides the engineers estimate, which is published along with the tenders for bids…Therefore, it cannot be said that the NDIA (the budget agency) has been turning down competitive bids, as is being claimed in the September 19, 2021 article.”
The government agency further contended, “…if an aggrieved bidder wishes to know the grounds for the rejection of the bid, they can contact the NPTAB for such information.”
As it relates to the specific steel sheet piles project that this publication had reported on, the Government agency said, “…only NPTAB would be able to provide the answers for the rejection.”
According to the Ministry, “the tendering of bids, acceptance of bids, and subsequent award of bids are done through the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB) once it is above a prescribed limit. All these projects named in the articles are above that prescribed limit and, therefore, fall under the ambit and control of the NPTAB and not the Ministry or the NDIA.”
This publication had reported that the procurement practices being employed at the Ministry of Agriculture’s NDIA, is coming under increasing scrutiny in light of the discovery of the practice of the repeated retendering for the project, namely, the supply of steel piling sheets that can be sourced from a single company.
The identified quality specification for the sheet piles to be provided, according to a quote seen by this publication from the sole supplier globally, Arcelor Mittal Projects, is listed as ASTM A690.
Arcelor Mittal is headquartered in Luxembourg, with the sales rep, for Latin America, which encompasses sales to Guyana, being Julian Guitierrez who works out of Torres Global Bank.
The quote provided by the company for the 10-metre long lengths of steel sheets, was provided at €751,285 or GY$184.7M, minus commission.
The bidding process has since seen four incarnations, with bids being received and turned down in varying amounts.
It was explained to this publication that government could sole source the material for as little as US$1M, when the related ancillary charges are added on.
Instead, the option to repeatedly retender for a specific type of material that can only be sourced from one supplier is raising eyebrows among some in the industry.
One such insider, speaking to this publication on the condition of anonymity, said it must be publicly questioned why it is that the engineer preparing the project document for NDIA insists on that specification for the steel sheet pilings, since there are several other grades of similar steel sheet pilings that can be used for the same purposes indicated by the NDIA.
This coupled with the repeated retendering, according to the insider, “has to be questioned publicly, since it can only point to the government setting the stage to have some favoured contractor to get the contract—a contractor that would eventually have to purchase the steel from the same company.”
The bidder cited as example, “if government was looking to purchase a Tesla vehicle, why would it go out to public tender, when there is only one company in the world that makes Tesla vehicles.”
Additionally, another contractor had lamented that the practice of retendering by the Ministry’s NDIA amounts to blatant collusion on the part of the Ministry, since it is not only unethical, but also tantamount to corruption and should be considered illegal.
It was explained that each time the Ministry puts out a tender for a contract—many of which runs into the hundreds of millions or billions—it would cost every person or company submitting a bid, hundreds of thousands of dollars for each bid submitted.
When the contract is opened at the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB) and retendered, at least one contractor who spoke to this publication on the condition of anonymity explained that it is tantamount to the state agencies providing insider information to their preferred bidders.
This obtains since after repeated retendering, the preferred bidders would be able to know the rates being charged by competitors and eventually be allowed to outbid the others.
It was noted too that when complaints are lodged requesting the rationale behind the refusal of a bid, these are often times brushed aside or met with vague answers—a claim since also denied by the Ministry.
Oct 23, 2021By Sean Devers Guyanese pugilists, Olympian Keevin Allicock and Desmond Amsterdam along with Coach Terrence Poole are in Belgrade, Serbia to compete at the 2021 AIBA World Boxing Championships which...
Oct 23, 2021
Oct 23, 2021
Oct 23, 2021
Oct 22, 2021
Oct 22, 2021
Kaieteur News – I do not share the views on America by one of its most famous Black faces – Condoleezza Rice –... more
By Sir Ronald Sanders Kaieteur News – On October 12, more than a dozen representatives in the US Congress sent a letter... more
Freedom of speech is our core value at Kaieteur News. If the letter/e-mail you sent was not published, and you believe that its contents were not libellous, let us know, please contact us by phone or email.
Feel free to send us your comments and/or criticisms.
Contact: 624-6456; 225-8452; 225-8458; 225-8463; 225-8465; 225-8473 or 225-8491.
Or by Email: [email protected] / [email protected]