Nov 15, 2021 Editorial
Kaieteur News– The more things are added up in this country, the more Guyana ends up with a bigger minus sign; deeper in the red where doing the right things are involved. Some things simply do not make sense, no matter how kindly looked at, and particularly when we are supposed to have a proper and functioning mechanism in place. We reported on before, and today we point to, that construction contract for a building in Region 10.
“Fly-by-night company wins $346M contract to build primary school” (KN November 12). It is a big sum, close to the middle of a quarter and a half billion dollars, for a poor place like Guyana, now trying to gather its feet under it, following a long gruelling elections season, and a still intense and damaging viral pandemic. “Fly-by-night” is exactly how to describe this winning company all of a month old, since it fits perfectly. It fits still more seamlessly, because the people behind the company awarded the contract to build a primary school in Bamia, Region 10 are long experienced and better known for their presence in the realms of sports and entertainment.
Thus, it baffles that a company with such a track record could be awarded a $346M contract to build a school to house our very young and their educational guides. Even if this newly formed company, Statement Investment Inc, was the sole bidder, this does not measure up, but only looks more glaring, more unbelievable (and unacceptable), when recent tendering history has had more than one instance of retendering.
But, in the bidding for the contract for the school in Bamia, three other companies also submitted bids, but came out on the losing side of the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB), and of which more will follow later in this writing. It boggles the mind to think that these other three losing companies had a worst, or lesser, construction record than the fly-by-night Statement Investment Inc.
Guyanese have had sharp and bitter experiences with fly-by-night entities before. They have been stranded at a bad time, lost money, and left holding the bag. They set up expectations, then when all seem settled and is least expected, they drop the hammer on people who have to pay in one way or another. We point to the rundown stories of local airlines plying the Georgetown to New York route as precedents and warning.
As we digest all of this, we now come to this state agency called NPTAB. In the simplest terms, this is a group of public servants assembled under a single umbrella to ensure that there is clarity and integrity to the business of the people, as such specifically relates to goods and services to improve the standard of living of Guyanese throughout the 10 administrative regions of this country. In theory, NPTAB is supposed to operate free of political interference and influence. In theory, the people leading the way at NPTAB, be they on the board itself, or those doing all the legwork on the ground before matters come before it, are expected and should possess, impeccable standards, and to be more honourable than Caesar’s wife. In theory, NPTAB functions, when at its best, as a filter and screener and protector of the interests of people and state.
But all of these are in theory only; and this is Guyana, which has its own set of realities, that leaves us gasping. For when something like this happens, with this fly-by-night to build a school, we find our faith in the credibility and integrity of the people at NPTAB, and the agency itself, coming under the severest distress. This does not bode well for NPTAB, or for the confidence of Guyanese, who have seen so many of these inexplicable and sickening situations, that they are no longer fooled.
It would be helpful, if we could be enlightened as to what were the criteria used to arrive at awarding the contract to Statement Investment Inc., and to the disadvantages of the others competing to build that school in Bamia. We think, using this as a test case, all Guyana would want to know the basis for this award. We invite NPTAB to share.
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