This writer has been involved with tendering for security contracts for over 38 years. I have seen a lot of ugliness in this process. However, I wish to state that in recent years things seem to have taken a dip for the worse and this gives a negative image to the government of the day. In fairness, I do not believe that the government encourages corruption or is involved in the deceit that preponderates in the system of tender awards. At the same time, anyone can see that the award of tenders usually involves favouritism, nepotism and even corruption. Of course, I also observed this practice during the term of the previous government as well.
Being a businessman who is involved in the security industry, I can comment on the hardships faced when tendering for security contracts. However, I believe this is a common phenomenon in other industries as well. Sadly, it does not only happen with ministerial tenders, but also with those involving the regions, institutions, corporations, government agencies and government commissions. As I have continuously stated, I have no political axe to grind. As a patriot, all I desire is good governance from whoever is elected.
At least 99% of all tenders for security are known for their illogicality. Whether the document is not explicit enough in its criteria, or the calculations (inclusive of personnel numbers) do not add up, there is always some drama and confusion.
Further, many times our company must call to advise them on our observations, which sometimes leads to expressions of appreciation, but at other times annoyance and a ‘don’t care’ attitude. Our company, RK’s Guyana Security Services has been in business for almost four decades, and so we understand the complications which come from tendering for certain contracts.
It would appear that once a particular company offers a rate to make it competitive, for no justifiable reason whatsoever the tenders are cancelled and are retendered. It seems as though the persons in these governmental institutions believe tenders are a joke and something to use for personal benefit. Meanwhile, some other prejudices may be involved: political, racial, or just a dislike of a personality. Retenders are costly and it would appear that certain administrators in ministries and commissions don’t seem to realize this. It takes many hours (costly for labour) and a lot of mental energy to fulfil all the criteria. In many cases, a tenderer must repurchase the tender documents. Added to that, there is a cost for accountants to procure financial compliance. Finally, in all tenders, a company must find tens of thousands and sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars for bid security. One commission has retendered thrice over the past few months unjustifiably. Can anyone imagine why? It should be noted, that this particular commission has already had fingers pointed at it for acts of alleged corruption.
It is my opinion that whenever a retender is advertised, government ministries, commissions and institutions should provide the new tender documents free of charge to those who previously tendered, and compensate for the 2% bid security. It has been observed that one particular company, which is usually the highest bidder, frequently receives the award. My company, RK’s Guyana Security Services will never tender below cost, so we do not believe in the lowest tender since in order to do this, Value Added Tax (VAT) will be stolen (and I know many companies which do this), NIS contributions will be stolen (again) and even bankruptcy will be declared to hoodwink the NIS, GRA and the entire government structure. This particular company in 2015 was awarded a contract for a certain ministry even although its bid was $30 million above our tender. Also, RK’s had served this ministry for over two years without complaint, without a loss and with an extremely high calibre of service. That same company then took over a contract from us at another ministry even though their tender was $10 million above ours. For the year-and-a-half that we served that ministry, they were happy, and we are proud to have left both locations with dignity and honour.
In the former and current administrations, there are persons who are self-seekers, while there are others who hate and dislike. I believe that Cabinet would not be involved in any activity that is unprincipled and dishonourable. There appears to be a group of people of power operating like a shadow cabinet, which overrides the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB), the Public Procurement Commission (PPC) and the official Cabinet; awards are being given and taken away at its whim and fancy. I have written to the highest authorities, met with several personalities and professionals in the government, all of whom were shocked by the scenario.
I would like to encourage this government to distance itself from the few recalcitrant persons functioning as a shadow cabinet as they do not have Guyana at heart. Our nation has come a long way from independence to ensure accountability, transparency and fairness in tendering; let us build on these strides.
Roshan Khan Sr
RK’s Guyana Security Services