Specialty hospital contractor says no basis for opposition concerns

-boasts of ‘amazing’ record

Surendra Engineering Corporation has said it has a successful track record of managing and completing projects similar to the US$18M specialty hospital it has been contracted by government to build at Turkeyen and that opposition concerns about its capacity are misguided.

In a statement to Stabroek News, Executive Director Brijen Parikh said Surendra Engineering Corporation Limited (SECL) is “highly disappointed that it has been accused of several things” without any attempt being made at fact finding. Far from being a “spare part supplier” the company is registered under Indian law and is headquartered in Mumbai with offices in different parts of the world for administration and support of various ongoing and completed projects, he said. It has successfully managed and executed projects in various fields, including several hospital projects similar to the subject project, he said in the statement.

Parikh further said that claims that the Government of India and Exim Bank are concerned about the company being awarded the contract are false. “When we approach[ed] Exim Bank for clarification they informed is that they have never expressed any such concern….They also informed us that they were not aware of any such statement….” Further, he said, “We have submitted detailed design Report, conceptual drawings and information about the Geotechnical Investigation already carried out along with information on key persons involved in this project who are highly qualified and experienced.”

Parikh also noted that the opposition seems unaware of its “amazing track record of successfully completing various construction projects in Guyana, India, Africa, South America and many other places.”

Both the main opposition APNU and the Alliance For Change (AFC) have condemned government’s attempts to forge ahead with the US$18M project on the grounds that it lacks transparency. The opposition is also troubled that Surendra Engineering had worked on the problematic Enmore sugar packaging plant and lacked any experience building a hospital, much less a specialty hospital, which requires meticulous infrastructural work.

Further, the cutting of the government’s proposed allocation for the hospital raised the question as to whether Surendra might have concerns about continuing with the project because of uncertainty over future disbursals. It is still unclear how money will be made available for the project considering the allocation had been axed, although the government has in several instances restored cut funds.

“We want to know where the money is coming from,” main opposition APNU leader David Granger said on Thursday. “There is a big question mark on government projects… there must not be expenditure of government funds [outside] of [the] approval of the National Assembly. The rules are very clear but the government seems to have created some way to bypass this and we feel that is not legal.” Granger said that while the opposition has sought over the past 18 months to hold the government accountable for how it spends taxpayers’ dollars, there appears to be a loophole.
AFC leader Khemraj Ramjattan has also condemned government’s attempts to sidestep these concerns.

“To bypass these concerns, especially the capacity to construct and equip the specialty hospital with the advanced state-of-the-art instruments, the Government of Guyana through its Attorney General, has created this un-named construction consultancy to give the impression to the Government of India and the EXIM Bank that all is now well with the project and, hence, advances can be disbursed,” he said at a press briefing where he again reiterated the party’s call for the set-up of the Public Procurement Commission.

“This proclivity of the government to go ahead with multi-million dollar projects while it refuses to participate in establishing the constitutionally required oversight body, the Public Procurement Commission, leaves open the door to corruption and mismanagement of the people’s money,” Ramjattan said.

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