Nov 09, 2023 Editorial
Kaieteur News – Matters are getting out of hand in government land. One involves the situation between the Public Procurement Commission (PPC) and the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB). The latter awarded a contract that has raised no ends of controversy and clamor, while the former wrote the people at NPTAB to obtain the relevant documents to get to the truth of the matter.
Pursuant to the laws of Guyana, the PPC has the authority to request documents under certain circumstances. The complete paper trail should support the basis for awarding the $865 million contract to Tepui, Inc., for a pump station facility. Once the NPTAB process was clean, coherent, and procedurally and ethically aboveboard, then it should not have any difficulty, any hesitancy, in releasing any documents requested by the PPC. NPTAB itself has stated publicly and unambiguously that its process in that specific contract award was by the book. We are glad to hear that, but are somewhat surprised that the same NPTAB has dragged its feet in delivering the related documents to the PPC. In fact, NPTAB has done more than delayed document delivery, for according to the PPC, it has flat out refused to supply anything. Now the PPC is weighing its options, waiting for legal advice, and thinking of proceeding to the court for a ruling on the release of these documents relative to the Tepui, Inc., award.
A reasonable question is why is this so? Another would be what is going on at NPTAB that there is this reaction? Another is why did matters have to come to this? Regarding NPTAB, it certainly exudes all the nervousness and defensiveness of those who have things that they prefer not to be subjected to the sanitizing of light. At a minimum, NPTAB’s process in the review and award of contracts that comes before it should include a complete record of each proceeding, as part of its normal standards. It follows, therefore, that those who voted for approval of the Tepui, Inc., bid would be identified, with the same being so for those who had a concern or problem with the bid. In both applicable for and against scenarios, the positions taken and objections raised by principled and sound thinking members would be memorialized. There would be a clear document trail that gives a comprehensive picture of what went into the deliberations about that bid, and how it ended up as it did, which is a questionable winner.
In the circumstances, and given the public outcry, plus a little political push, the PPC made its document request. Now many Guyanese are trying to make sense of the rejection that came from NPTAB. Though there are considerable uncertainties about the standards under which NPTAB operates, and still more bafflements about some of its contract award record, we point no finger at it at this point. The sole interest is working towards the truths and contexts under which Tepui, Inc., was the recipient of an $865 million award for a pump station, given its clear deficiency with a vital requirement set out by NPTAB itself.
NPTAB should be willing to provide what is asked for by the PPC, if only to prove the robustness of its processes, and to say nothing about the integrity of its people standing over taxpayers’ dollars. The more NPTAB digs in its heels, and the more time it uses up, on a positive and full response to the PPC, the more questions and suspicions are raised over its work. Vice President Jagdeo interjected that the PPC could have called the president, been less shrill. He must be jesting.
More sharply, there is too much secrecy on too many important things in too many areas. The substance and integrity of contract awards fall into that secrecy category. When issues are handled right, then all concerned should be only too happy to have them bask in the sunlight. On the other hand, when there are probably elements of shenanigans (the proper word is skullduggery), then there is an interest in seeking any safe harbour, no matter how temporary, to maintain concealments. Let us hope that documents are not shredded, made to disappear, or rearranged with the time bought.
PNC demanding answers for smuggled chicken early Sunday morning after church!
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