Nov 24, 2021 Letters
Kaieteur News – During the coalition’s rule, pumps were ordered from India and delivered in Guyana. Engineers reported that some of the pumps were defective and full payments were withheld pending corrective measures.
Although the pumps have not been repaired to the correct specifications, engineers say payment to the contractor was authorised under the current government by an official of the Ministry of Finance but was blocked by an official of the Ministry of Agriculture. Was there a tussle? Was payment approved in order to turn a blind eye after the demand from an official of the Ministry of Finance was met by the supplier? Transaction was confirmed by engineers in contact with the company. Incidentally, this senior official at the Ministry of Finance has been earmarked for a senior position at a major state agency. Was there another huge demand for a fee from an official of the Ministry of Agriculture? Sources say that the Indian company was unable to meet any new demand for an additional “fee”.
The pumps have not been remedied though we are in the rainy season again. Since the pumps have not been remedied, why was payment authorised in the first instance? Shouldn’t there be an investigation into what really happened with the pumps and whether they are fixed? Would the official who received a fee return it to the Indian company?
Meanwhile, the ministry is embarking on another pump arrangement. Information from engineers within NDIA detailed how pumps are being procured for the newly awarded pump stations through a middle person in the US. The middle person is an agent of pumps that are purchased from China and elsewhere sold to Guyana through private contractors who then supply them to NDIA. Would these pumps meet the specifications or is another problem like the Indian supplier in the making? Are we going to be supplied cheap, substandard pumps? On this pump transaction, it is understood that a very high official of the Ministry of Agriculture is functioning as a silent agent with the US middle man. And he is also a close associate of the contractor/supplier of the Stanleytown pump station who procures pumps for several other pump stations in the country. The contractor has positioned the high official to front for him in this transaction to supply substandard pumps to NDIA under a US registered brand name. The contractor continues to represent the US manufacturer who traditionally supplied high quality pumps. Given all the problems the country has experienced, should we not be careful with ordering pumps through middle sources and inexperienced contractors?
That aside, editor, as I am learning from ‘pumpers’ and farmers, the recent floods have been highly profitable for a few senior officials of the Ministry. It would seem that creating floods and emergency situations create handsome profitable business for some.
The engineers report on the verification exercise for flood works payments that have revealed that a few contractors in East and West Berbice are being paid in some instance more than five folds for actual drainage works done during the floods. Small contractors who did similar amounts of work are not receiving similar payments and in fact have not been paid as yet. Is that fair? Is it a result of not wanting to be part of the drawback payment scheme dominating operations?
We need a watchdog group to monitor misappropriated government funds in the name of buying pump, performing drainage work, and in all government procurements as we are worse now than that what obtained pre-2015.
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