The nation learnt that the Minister of Finance, a few days ago, signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the continuation of the specialty hospital. The nation will recall that this was a project conceived and brought into fruition by the PPP/Civic administration. It involved three players: the Government of Guyana, the Government of India and the Indian Exim Bank. The Government of Guyana was supposed to make available the land where the hospital is to be situated and to do certain preparatory works on that site. When the PPP/Civic administration budgeted money to do this preparatory work, the APNU+AFC sliced it out of the national budget for three consecutive years. They advanced innumerable reasons, both in and out of Parliament, why this project should not proceed. Only three months ago, they announced the ‘official scrapping’ of the project. The reason given then was that as a nation, we are not ready for this type of health care and they pledged to divert the financing into the improvement of primary health care.
They have made a full circle. In so doing, again, they have vindicated the PPP/C. They will now have to swallow and if they care to, justify to the public, their rejection of this project. Regardless of how they proceed, their position now clearly confirms that their postures on matters of national importance are not based on principle and upon merit but on what is politically exigent at the time. Their new found support for the Amaila Falls Hydro Project after slaughtering it in the National Assembly and elsewhere is but yet another example.
Under the PPP/Civic administration, a public procurement process in accordance with the Procurement Act and the loan agreement with the Indian Exim Bank, was undertaken in relation to this project. That process produced Surendra Engineering Limited as the successful bidder. Fedders Lloyd participated in that public procurement process but was disqualified at an early stage, in accordance with the law and rules which governed that particular procurement process. At the time, the leader of the AFC led a public campaign advocating a case for Fedders Lloyd in the National Assembly and elsewhere. At the time, it was publicly revealed that he was hired to do so. I do not recall any denial from him then. Fedders Lloyd was never the second bidder in that process as some are trying to make out. They were disqualified at a very early stage on technical grounds. In addition, they have been publicly associated with and connected to the Alliance For Change. This company is now handpicked by an APNU+AFC government to do this project, the value of which is several million US dollars.
While in opposition, the same APNU+AFC served this nation with a daily diet of the importance of public procurement, transparency, accountability and their indispensability to good governance, which they promised the electorate. I guess it remains merely a promise. I say so because this is not an isolated incident but is one link in a chain of projects done ultra vires the Procurement Act where billions of dollars are being paid to friends and cronies without resort to any public or transparent process. I cite as examples the $200 odd paid to auditors who were handpicked by a minister to do forensic audits and millions paid to similarly selected contractors to clean the city of Georgetown. Where are the self-anointed champions of transparency and accountability in public office?
Oh … I just remembered, they are also the beneficiaries of non-transparent processes.
Anil Nandlall, MP