Metro boss protests victimisation of company in regions

- urges audits to verify corruption

CEO of Metro Office Supplies Taajnauth Jadunauth has accused officials of regions Three, Five and Six of victimising the stationery supplier, saying that it is being deliberately shut out of contract awards.

Metro recently staged protests outside the Regional Democratic Office of Region 3 and Jadunauth told Stabroek News that its grievances with the region began from the time he queried payments in excess of $200,000 owed to the company for the period 2005 to 2006. He added that after constant questions to regional officials about the monies owed, he noticed that all procurement by the region from Metro ceased. He added that in 2008, his company, although making several tender bids, was only awarded a paltry $12,000 contract. Afterward, he stated, Region 3 never again did business with him.

Stabroek News tried contacting Region 3 Chairman Julius Faerber for over a week but on all occasions his office said he was either out of office or would be back shortly. Stabroek News subsequently visited the RDC on Tues-day for a 1:30 pm appointment with Faerber, however he did not grant the interview. Further, more than an hour after the appointment time, he stated that that he was in Georgetown for a meeting, although he could be seen in the vicinity of the regional office.

According to Jadunauth, he queried the sudden withdrawal of services by the region and was given “lame excuses.” He said: “I needed my money. I run a business and it needs money to be constantly turned over. I could not have $200,000 outstanding and say nothing. Some have said it was a small amount but in these times it can go a long way… when you talk for your thing people become offended and here I am.”

While noting that no region has any obligation to buy from any one supplier, he said that his employees are facing grave financial crisis and as such he decided to mount a protest since his belief is that only when protests are done is any attention is given to matters in Guyana.

“This problem has reached saturation point… I have in my employ over 80 persons that are persons who the government does not have to find jobs for. Should I have to lay them off can you imagine how many lives will be directly and indirectly affected?” Jadunauth said.

“I am a principled and honest man. It is for that reason I am victimised. I don’t be a part of any underhand business. I will not compromise my standards just to be awarded a few tenders, I am very sorry. If I have to protest everyday until something is done I will, because I lead from the front by example of principle… I told them I would protest many didn’t seem to take me seriously but I did and will continue,” he added.

Among the concerns raised by Metro are that after the company would have submitted bids, even if it had pre-qualified no one could say what happened to its orders after the tenders were awarded.

Another major concern is that technical specification of items needed is never given and as a result any quality of the item can be given should the contract be awarded. For example, Xerox paper comes in many qualities and is measured in grammes, which determines the cost of the paper. When advertisements are put out for paper, however, they never state what gramme is needed. As a result, bidders could give very cheap quotes because they will then submit poor quality paper. None of the receivers realise the disparity until after orders are placed and the paper delivered.

Further, Jadunauth says since no audit was carried out in either region since the early 2000s, there is no way in which officials know the amount of items supplied. He added that he has information that in most instances only 70% of goods are delivered. As such, he is calling on government to carry out an impromptu audit of regions 3, 5 and 6.

Another irregularity, he said, is the extension of tender dates to facilitate persons whose documents did not meet the tender specifications. This action, Jadunauth stated, was unfair to persons who would have worked expeditiously in preparing their tenders to meet the deadline. What he said was most disturbing is that the bidder granted the extension is usually the bidder who wins the tender.

Jadunauth’s other concerns include the request that suppliers hold prices steady for a year period; purchasing agencies not supplying a projected list of supplies; closing dates for tenders being only one week after they are posted on the e-procure website  and in media; and that tender documents are not always available for sale.

He hopes these issues are addressed quickly by the relevant authorities, while noting that several complaints were lodged with the Head of the Presidential Secretariat Dr Roger Luncheon, relevant ministers. He added that he will even engage the Presi-dent should his protests produce futile results.