‘Expressions of Interest’ and the state newspaper

Dear Editor,

 

It is not an exceptional practice. One is therefore pleased to learn of the public enquiry into the ‘Expressions of Interest’ (and versions thereof) exclusively enjoyed by the Guyana Chronicle in particular; and the feigned unawareness of this insulation (described bluntly in other media as discrimination) of responsive and responsible officials.

The thrust of the enquiry concerned the publication in the Chronicle, and other named newspapers, of a range of Notices regarding projects of national interest – including incidentally (on May 25):

1   The egregious example of a USAID Notice inviting NGOs to a meeting at the US Embassy, Georgetown to discuss of all things – Information.

2   Then in this same restrictive vein is placed the Public Notice of Government of Guyana – extending over at least five pages – which reads as follows: ‘Pursuant to the Access of Information Act’. How blind-sided can one get?

3   The above apart the Guyana Sugar Corporation perhaps takes the (sugar) cake for inviting ‘Expressions of Interest’ in relation to 500 hectares of land to be ‘outsourced’ to private cane farmers. The Notice concedes modestly that the said lands at Uitvlugt Estate have been out of cultivation in excess of one year. It is an interesting incentive to ‘cane farmers’ who must be aware of the traditionally poor yields at Uitvlugt Estate. At least they are forewarned that the site visit is at their own expense.

4   Staying with GuySuCo, the corporation has also invited bidders to whom they plan to ‘outsource customs clearing’.

5   Claustrophobia has so enveloped the University of Guyana that the institution is inviting bids for the ‘Supply, Installation, Commission and Maintenance of a Closed Circuit Surveillance & Recording System’ at Turkeyen.

6   The latter project would appear to match GuySuCo’s Invitation for Bids for ‘CCTV Assessment Materials and Installation Services’.

7   Much more refreshing perhaps, is GuySuCo’s request for tenders for ‘Oxygen and Acetylene: 2014-2016 to Berbice and Demerara Estates’.

8   Consistent with its descriptor, Conservation International would appear to conserve wider publicity efforts by advertising the vacancy of Operations Manager, in one conservative (?) newspaper.

9   One must also wonder at the reticence shown by the Caribbean Development Bank regarding national Projects financed under the GOG/Caricom Development Fund, as those listed below:

i)   Upgrading Access Roads in the Parika Area;

ii)   Roads and Bridges in the Onverwagt area;

The above are in addition to Vacancy Notices for positions of Project Engineer, and Community Liaison Officer.

10 Two of the more significant projects are the Guyana Livestock Development Authority’s Invitation to Bid for the ‘Construction of Semen Extraction Unit’; while obviously with its tongue in its cheek, the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport, which is responsible for managing the ‘New Opportunity Corps’, is inviting bids to construct a (new) ‘Confinement Building’. No contractor should miss this opportunity.

11 One was always led to believe that education, if nothing else, belonged to all the people. Why then the restriction of Notices inviting applicants to the new academic year, beginning September 2014, at the following institutions, for example:

Guyana School of Agriculture

New Amsterdam Technical Institute

Cyril Potter College of Education

It could only be sheer coincidence that the President’s recent address to the Caribbean Development Bank, was headlined in one newspaper as identifying the importance of ‘human development’ in Guyana. So that the organisers who restricted publication of educational/(training opportunities, at the respective institutions (as well as employment opportunities) to only one newspaper, have done a disservice to the vision of the Head of State.

12 A simplistic example of the latter is the advertised Vacancy Notice by the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Administration for overseers in the following NDCs: Wakenaam; Industry/Plaisance; Unity/Vereeniging; Kintyre/Borlam; Kilcoy/Hampshire.

13 Which scenario brings one around to examining the behaviours of Regional Administrations generally.

Annexe 1 to this document provides a ready reference to samples of what Regional Democratic Councils (RDCs) are offering as Projects to contractors who read their favourite newspaper. It is difficult to miss Region 6 RDC inviting bids for furniture, equipment, and of all things Baby Warmers for their Health Sector.

14 Annexe 2 reflects the disposition of a sample of Projects across Ministries. In recognition of ‘human development’ priority is given to the Ministry of Education.

15 But amongst the Projects listed, there is one within the Ministry of Agriculture that can well be interpreted as the ‘place de revetment’. It reads as follows:

“Phase 5: Repairs to Concrete Revetment at Head Office – the continuation of existing revetment and drainage works on Regent Road.”

Regent Road embraces the MOA’s Head Office from Vlissengen Road to Shiv Chanderpaul Drive – one block. Is it to be understood that there were four previous ‘Phases’ to complete works described – over the distance of less than 300 yards?

No wonder no estimated cost is indicated!

16 Health

At the other end of Georgetown it is good to see the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation actually recognising the need for some house cleaning, in such Projects as: the Kitchen Floor; a Decontamination Facility; and a Waste Processing Facility.

17 To a modest extent these Projects complement the Invitation For Bids (IFB) from the Guyana Solid Waste Management Project for the ‘Procurement of Solid Waste Management Equipment’. In neither instance are Estimated Costs mentioned.

But citizens can look forward, however anxiously, to a breath of fresh air – certainly in the confinement of the Sunday Chronicle.

 

Yours faithfully,
E B John

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