Despite much public criticism of the signing of an agreement with the government, Fedders Lloyd said it was forging ahead at the specialty hospital site at Liliendaal with construction expected to begin in full after the holidays and the hospital completed by the end of 2018.
“Even without any mobilization fund we are investing ourselves… Cleaning work at the site has already started,” Ajay Jha, company representative of Fedders Lloyd told Stabroek News when contacted.
Government and Fedders Lloyd last month signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that will see work resuming on the construction of the hospital, at Liliendaal, East Coast Demerara, using the remainder of a US$18 million line of credit that had been granted by the government of India for the project. The remaining sum is approximately US$13.7 million.
Jha said that while there has been much criticism about the award his company plans to produce excellent work on the hospital, demonstrating that it is a professional company.
Fedders Lloyd has invested in the specialty hospital as it plans to make Guyana its base country for Central and South America as part of the company’s expansion strategy, this newspaper was told.
According to a company representative, a local contractor has already been given funds to commence cleaning at the site.
When Stabroek News visited the site last week it did not appear that any work had begun and no one was there.
Although the Finance Ministry said Fedders Lloyd’s selection without public tendering was in keeping with the Procurement Act, because the firm was one of the two bidders that were in contention for the original project under the former PPP/C government, the original evaluation report showed that company had been disqualified from the process.
Former Auditor General Anand Goolsarran later called for the agreement to be cancelled and the bidding process restarted.
“Given the charges made by Fedders Lloyd of unfair treatment in the award of the (previous) contract (whether justifiable or not), and the Ministry of Health’s response, it would have been more appropriate for the works to be re-advertised to allay fears of the new administration taking sides in the dispute between the two parties,” Goolsarran wrote in his “Accountability Watch” column, which was published in the November 30, 2015 edition of the Stabroek News.
“In any event, there is no provision in the Procurement Act for a terminated contractor to be replaced by the next contractor in line based on the original tender evaluation. The MoU with Fedders Lloyd should therefore be cancelled and the bidding process re-started. Indeed, the government has the obligation to uphold the principles of transparency in the award of all public contracts in conformity with the Procurement Act. Any lesser arrangement should be frowned upon,” he said.
President David Granger has said that he sees no “justification or need” to rescind the controversial Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) inked by government with Fedders Lloyd for the specialty hospital project.
His response was given during the recording of “The Public’s Interest” last Friday.
Granger told reporters that the Minister of Finance had previously examined the issue and had made a presentation on the issue.
“We, so far, are prepared to follow the advice of the Minister of Finance on this matter.
That is as much as I can say at this point in time,” Granger had responded, when asked.
In addition to the absence of public tendering, the deal has come in for scrutiny due to Fedders Lloyd having been represented during the earlier bidding process by now Vice-President and Minister of Public Security Khemraj Ramjattan.
President of Transparency Institute of Guyana Inc (TIGI) Calvin Bernard had posited that the circumstances warranted retendering the project and Leader of the Opposition Bharrat Jagdeo also said it should have been retendered after an independent evaluation of work done so far.
However, Ramjattan defended government’s selection saying that provision in the contract for the specialty hospital allows for government to employ a third party to complete the project in the event of fraudulent practices by the original contractor and it was under this clause that Fedders Lloyd was chosen to finish the project.