Teixeira raps procurement commission over bridge contract

Gail Teixeira

The Public Procurement Commission (PPC) has a responsibility to investigate all complaints and cannot use workload or the unavailability of resources to determine which case is looked at first, PPP Executive Gail Teixeira said on Saturday.

During a press conference she informed that she has received an unsatisfactory response from the PPC regarding her call for an investigation into the award of the contract for the feasibility study and design for the new Demerara River crossing to LievenseCSO.

She said that she is in receipt of a letter dated September 25, 2015 from PPC Chairman Carol Corbin.

She said that the response dated September 25 was signed by Corbin and acknowledges her letter. It states “Please be advised that the Commis-sion has noted the contents of your letter and we will follow up with the entities involved to address the concerns raised. This will be done in keeping with the relevant articles of the constitution and within the confines of our work programme and available resources “.

Teixeira said that the issue to “flag” is the phrase that deals with the availability of resources.

“I thought it might be interesting …to know the kind of responses we are getting from the PPC which has by the constitution specific responsibility to investigate complaints etc”, she said, while stressing that “The constitution makes it absolutely clear that once there is a complaint the PPC has to investigate, has to examine it. It can’t say that `well we have a work programme that says we have these ten other items. We have to do this first or we don’t have enough resources’. This is unacceptable. This is a constitutional body”.

Opposition MP Anil Nandlall also took issue with the response received. He said that he cannot understand how the PPC can have anything more to do than to the investigate matters and make recommendation for improvements.

Teixeira had released to the media her letter to the PPC, dated September 18, 2017 in which she detailed her concerns over the award of the contract to Dutch firm, LievenseCSO, which was not among the 22 companies from around the world that bid for the contract initially. She charged that the selection of the firm lacked transparency and violated the procurement laws. She further urged the PPC to also examine the new tender posted for the prequalification of contractors for the finance, design, construction and maintenance of the new bridge and to monitor the process to ensure the procurement laws are followed.

“This project is of significant importance to our nation, and, one that will clearly come at a great cost to the Guyanese taxpayer now and in the future, therefore the public expects unflinching diligence by the PPC in order to protect the Guyanese people’s interests and uphold the constitutional provisions,” she wrote.

Teixeira reminded that based on press reports, 22 companies had responded to a public advertisement seeking expressions of interest for the consultancy for the feasibility study and designs of the crossing.

The opening of those tenders were conducted on December 8, 2015 and publicised in the December 9, 2015 edition of the Stabroek News, under the headline ‘22 bid for new Demerara Bridge feasibility study, design.’

However, she highlighted the absence of LievenseCSO among the 22 companies.

Teixeira added that part of Guyana’s international obligations under the Inter-American Convention against Corruption is to ensure that there is transparency and accountability in order to enhance public trust and confidence, particularly in respect to the public procurement process. She noted that regulations for the procurement legislation provide for the posting on the NPTAB website information and minutes on the opening of the bids, the awards of tenders, and protests but there was no record on the site of the opening of bids/Expressions of Interest for the consultancy on December 8, 2015 or any other date. “Nor in fact, are there any minutes that reflect the submission of these 22 companies,” she further said.

Fellow Parliamentarian Juan Edghill has also written to the PPC calling for investigations into the D’Urban Park project and the rental of the Sussex Street bond.

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