Transparency group criticises gov’t over handling of allegations against GPL CEO

Transparency International Guyana Inc today criticised the government’s handling of allegations against the current head of GPL, Colin Welch.

The statement issued by TIGI follows:

Mr. Colin Welch, CEO of the state-owned Guyana Power & Light Inc., has been implicated in irregularities involving the procurement of prepaid meters worth US$4M by the power company. Mr. Welch is reported to have communicated with members of a bidding party and more specifically, a supplier and manufacturer of the items subject to the procurement process. With a view to ensuring the fundamental basic principles of impartiality, independence and integrity, the public procurement framework sets out clear ethical requirements by the procuring entity which necessarily includes the conduct of the CEO. More egregiously, it is reported that the CEO sought to promote the submission of documents falsely claiming that the manufacturer had historically met the purchasing requirements and therefore possesses the experience in the manufacture of the item, tipping the scale in this supplier’s favour.

TIGI denounces the cavalier treatment by the Government of this matterwhere instead of a thorough investigation in the face of allegations against a sitting CEO, the matter is instead quashed which appears to have the effect of averting in-depth investigation, and giving the CEO the chance to correct himself in future, if not completely absolve him from any consequences of his actions. TIGI feels that this matter has not been treated with the gravity that has been metted out to other government officials facing allegations of corruption.

Troublingly, the Minister, in aborting this tender on the basis that it started under the PPP, fails to appreciate that an illegal act is still illegal regardless of when it is committed or its origin. TIGI is further dissatisfied that the Director of Public Information, in a press statement said that “Minister Patterson… instructed an independent review of the complaints. All of the main complaints were found to be invalid” since no information is given on who constituted the investigation team, nor any assurance of a transparent investigation having taken place. GPL is a major public entity and the Minister must understand that transparency is expected of and from him as proper conduct is expected from the CEO. TIGI therefore calls on the Minister to disclose to the public the report on the investigations so that the public can decide whether or not an independent review is required.

The Procurement regulation provides for complaints from a bidder in such cases where they feel they have been disadvantaged and such recourse should be considered in this case by the bidder who provided this information.

Under the new government, senior officials have been sent on leave, in many cases without conformance to due process, on which TIGI has voiced its disapproval in the past. This is as good a case as any, for theindividual to be sent on leave to facilitate an investigation but instead the public is being told that the future of Welch with the power company will be determined by the new Board.

TIGI expects consistency from the Government and places on record our grave concern at the lack of urgency being demonstrated.

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