Dec 05, 2022 News
— Govt. dismisses claims, says process transparent
Kaieteur News – Attorney-at-Law Nigel Hughes is among several stakeholders and concerned citizens accusing the Government of concentrating large portions of the country’s resources to one group, comprising mainly of associates and supporters of the People’s Progressive Party /Civic (PPP/C).
But Government has maintained over the years that it has been even-handed in its Administration of the country. Earlier this year Minister of Public Works, Juan Edghill, has dismissed the allegations that Government contracts are being awarded to a particular section of society. He said that the awarding of Government contracts is done through a transparent, accountable, and fair process in keeping with the Public Procurement Act and Regulations. Vice President, Bharrat Jagdeo has repeatedly said that the records would show that Afro-Guyanese have achieved more during the PPP’s 23-year rule. “In terms of business ownership, in the tenure of the PPP at no time in our history, have there been so many Black-owned businesses for every type of service,” he said.
He had said that under the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) led administration, Linden got a brand new hospital, two new secondary schools, new housing schemes at Amelia’s Ward and Block 22, a new potable water supply system and subsidized electricity, Other achievements by Afro-Guyanese, he listed, were access to land, public service jobs and home ownership. “I am proud of our record how we have moved this country forward and a lot of our people, in fact all of our people made progress,” he said.
Meanwhile, Hughes said that the Administration has been accused of handing the bulk of Government contracts to mostly party affiliates and foreign companies while depriving other sections of the population the same opportunities. While the Government itself has rubbished all claims of discrimination, Hughes in a recent compilation of Government contracts awarded sought to highlight a huge gap in the distribution of contracts to the African Guyanese community. In the document ‘Economy and Justice in Guyana’, he submitted data to support his claim.
Hughes explained that in the construction boom, the Ministry of Housing is one of the Government Offices that has been tasked with awarding contracts. Currently, he pointed out, of the $27.1 Billion that involves three major road construction projects, “only 17 percent was awarded to an African Guyanese — in a joint venture with an Indian Guyanese.” He continued that, “82.5 percent of the Ministry of Housing’s largest projects were awarded to Indian and foreign Guyanese.” These are the Schoonord/ Crane Road Project at $11B, the Mandela— Eccles four-lane Road project at $2.3B and the Eccles — Diamond four-lane Project which cost some $13.3B.
In the Schoonord/Crane project, Hughes highlighted that Guyanese owned business VR Construction, was awarded a contract valued at $849,095,205, while Avinash Contracting and Scrap Metal was awarded $992,329,170. L’Heureus Construction and Services Inc. a Chinese and Indian partnership was awarded $2,146,128,836 while Guy America Construction, another Indian Company was awarded $2,651,774,881 despite them and the aforementioned company having no prior history of road construction, Hughes claimed. He highlighted that AJM Enterprise was awarded a $1,834,765,958 contract on the same project while VALS Construction, an International Company, was awarded $1,335,058,200 and Puran Brothers as well as JS Guyana Disposal Inc. both Indian Guyanese owned businesses, were awarded $1,073,817,633 and $927,751,073respectively.
Regarding the Mandela –Eccles four lane road, Hughes submitted that Guy-America Construction Inc. was awarded $555,058,718, while MTSUL Construcoes Ltd, M&P Investment Inc. & Cobra Eireli, a Brazilian / Indian Joint venture was awarded $364,474,818, and Puran Brothers Disposal Inc. awarded $360,232,635. Colin Talbot & Eron Lall, was awarded $256,700,000 on the same project while Aronoco Services and JS Guyana Inc. Indian Guyanese owned businesses received contracts valued at $471,000,000 and $352,400,000 respectively. Where the Eccles to Great Diamond Road project is concerned, Ivor Allan was awarded $825,369,447, while S. Jagmohan & Co. earned $1,253,593,366 and China Railway First Group was awarded a $1,019,582,510 contract.
Recently awarded contracts for the Guyana Water Inc. for the provision of Water Treatment Plants and Supplies to the tune of some $6B, Hughes pointed out, that no African Guyanese was selected for the job. Of the eight lots, six contracts were awarded to Guyanese companies; H. Nauth & Sons $593,376,757, D&R Construction $278,000,000, Dax Engineering $2,069,800,000, International Import & Supplies $352,576,000, Singh & Sons $424,100,000 and S. Jagmohan & Co. $1,236,700,000. American Company, Toshiba Water Solutions Inc. was awarded $633,134,688, while a newcomer, Compass Industrial Services, got $424,100,000.
As it relates to the Ministry of Health, the report submitted that New GPC Inc. is still benefiting from the largest share of drugs and equipment procured for the sector. It said that total Capital Expenditure from August 2020 – 2022 of $19.1B went mainly to New GPC Inc. at a cost of $13,075,772,764, a 68.43 percent of the total budget, while Western Scientific Company Ltd. from Trinidad was awarded $5,192,090,387, 27.17 percent of total budget.
To further make the case of discrimination, Hughes claimed that the 2022 budget allocations saw Region 4 — the Capital of Guyana and the most populous region with some 41% of the population and comprising predominantly African Guyanese, allocated some $781M while Region 6 with 15% of the population and predominantly Indian receiving some $962M and Region 3 with approximately 18% of the population and predominantly Indian, receiving some $890M to conduct its affairs. Attorney Hughes described the situation as a continuation of the systemic transfer of state resources to certain cronies of the Government. He said that the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) has been in office from 1992 to 2015 and from 2020 to the present.
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