A five-year contract worth $185M was signed between the government and Television Guyana Inc (TVG) in 2010 to provide a satellite signal for the Learning Channel.
The contract signed on the government’s behalf by the National Centre for Educational Resource Development (NCERD) was recently tabled in Parliament by Education Minister Priya Manickchand in answer to questions by AFC MP Cathy Hughes.
Questions had been raised about why the government/ NCERD had sought recourse to TVG for the teleport without going to tender or seeking alternatives.
The question was also raised in light of the quantum of business that had been transacted by the Jagdeo administration with TVG’s parent group.
This included large single-sourced contracts for the procurement of medical drugs and other supplies to the government.
After the questions surfaced, the Ministry of Education and NCERD had explained in April this year that TVG was the only provider of such a service here and it would have been far more expensive for the Learning Channel to establish its own service.
Critics have said however that there was no evidence in 2010 that the government advertised for a provider of satellite service to the Learning Channel considering the size of the contract envisaged.
In answer to Hughes’ question as to when the tender for the provision of the service was advertised and in which media, Manickchand said “The Minister has been advised that TVG was at the time of the procurement of the service, and remains now, the only supplier of this service which allows communities all across this country to be able to benefit from the programs on the Learning Channel and that no other reasonable alternative or substitute exists.
The Minister would be happy to be advised if, contrary to her advice, the Honourable member asking this question is aware of the existence of any other supplier of the same service with the same specifications that would allow for the same quality of service to reach the sons and daughters of Guyana”.
She then pointed out that the procurement act permits single sourcing when the service being sought is available from only from one particular supplier or that person has exclusive rights to the service and “no reasonable alternative or substitute exists”.
Manickchand’s response also disclosed that the Learning Channel had purchased $6.9m worth of antennas, dishes and other equipment from TVG in addition to the monthly fee it paid.
It was further disclosed that the tower of GT&T at Benab and the tower of Digicel at Moira Point were being utilized by the Learning Chanel.