According to the Auditor General’s report seventy-nine contracts valued at $147.536 million were not awarded to the lowest or the most competitive bidder in Region Six, but went to the most expensive bid from those which were submitted.
The procurement procedure for goods and services for state financed entities may look good on paper but on the ground leave much to be desired. Our tender system is flawed in so many ways that it is only logical to conclude that the system is designed for people in power to collude with people in business to defraud the tax-paying public. The result is that the people are not getting value for their money, while more taxes are continually being demanded of them.
I can understand a tender for the building of a school, roads, etc; things that have to be constructed. What I cannot comprehend is tendering for a finished product like a tractor, excavator, medication ‒ things that are available on the market for anyone to buy. Government often pays more than what private companies pay for the same product. In defence we are told that it is so because of “transparency and accountability”.
We saw the PPP/C pay exorbitant prices for medication through sole sourcing to New GPC, Gecom for radio sets and the coalition for rent on a bond to store small medical items, and one billion above the engineer’s estimate for the GPL contract. It’s all the same nonsense on different days. To this nation there has always been a stench about government procurement.
Why can’t we just publish the engineer’s estimate and the criteria (compliance, experience, quality and brand if tendering for a manufactured product). The public will be advised that the engineer’s estimate will be the price that will be paid and as such all that is required of them is to sign that they agree to work or supply at that price. The Tender Board after examining the prequalification of all the interested contractors or suppliers would then invite all the eligible contractors or their representatives to an office. In their presence their names would be represented by a number and a raffle would decide who gets the contract. In this manner no contractor will feel cheated, and neither will any contractor have to give a ‘kickback’ to anyone for a contract. We wouldn’t have problems with contractors taking the government to court.
Both the PPP/C and the coalition are not interested in the Public Procurement Commission. They both are happy with cabinet giving no objection to contracts. Despite Mr Nandlall’s contention that cabinet’s no objection would cease upon the establishment of the PPC, Chairperson Carol Corbin said that there was no disregard for the rule of law and that the commission was justified in its position to allow a “weaning process” (KN, Dec 14, 2016). In my opinion the milk in the weaning process will continue to run unabated until it becomes politically expedient to stop it before elections in 2020.
The fact is that we live in a world where everyone seems to have a price; that price varies with the individual, the moment, the size of the pie and the ease with which it could be acquired.
Corruption comes in many forms but corruption through procurement is the most prevalent and painful to the masses. Procurement by raffling will take the human element with all its covetous and kleptomaniac tendencies out of the equation. The state will save billions each year. The people will pay fewer taxes and get more for their tax dollars.