Patterson to address Cabinet on PPC’s findings of violations in award of bridge study contract

State Minister Joseph Harmon said on Thursday that it is expected that Minister of Public Infrastructure David Patterson will address Cabinet on the findings made by the Public Procurement Commission (PPC) of breaches of the procurement laws in the award of a contract to Dutch firm LievenseCSO for a feasibility study for a new bridge over the Demerara River

“It was not discussed at Cabinet [this week] but certainly I expect that the Minister of Public Infrastructure would address the matter and that by the next Cabinet meeting will bring to Cabinet a position on the issue that has been put into the public domain,” Harmon told reporters at a press briefing on Thursday.

He was asked whether Cabinet had read the PPC report and agreed that rules were breached.

The PPC said last week that the Ministry breached the Procurement Act when it single sourced the contract for consultancy services for the feasibility study and design for the new Demerara River Bridge to LievenseCSO, a Dutch firm, in December, 2016,.

Opposition Chief Whip Gail Teixeira has since written the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU), calling upon it to undertake a comprehensive investigation of the award with a view to instituting criminal charges against Patterson.

The PPC, in its findings, said the Ministry of Public Infrastructure (MPI) did not place any advertisement for retendering the project, there was no evidence that any restricted procurement process was undertaken for the consultancy and there was no evidence in the records of the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB) of a request made by the MPI to approve a single source award. 

The PPC said that an examination of records relating to the tender and discussions with the relevant officials indicate that “the procurement procedure used to select LievenseCSO to execute the contract did not meet the requirements of any of the methods described in the Procurement Act.”

In her letter to SOCU head Sydney James, Teixeira noted that on September 18th, 2017, she wrote the PPC with regards to concerns that the procurement laws had been violated through the award of the contract and sought an investigation.

She noted that in a letter, dated August 2nd, 2018, the PPC sent her the report of its investigation with the findings, conclusions and recommendation, which she attached.

“Due to the seriousness of their findings and the gross violations of the Procurement Act, with particular reference to the role of the Minister of Public Infrastructure in violating the Procurement Act and the most recent Code of Conduct as outlined in the Integrity Commission, Act, I hereby call on the SOCU to take action as required under the law,” she stated.

There is no procedure that defines how a procuring entity should deal with “unsolicited proposals” such as the one reportedly received from LievenseCSO, the PPC said.

While Cabinet has the right to review all procurements exceeding $15 million based on a streamlined tender evaluation report adopted by the NPTAB, the PPC said there is no evidence that the report to Cabinet was prepared by NPTAB but submitted by the Minister of Public Infra-structure directly to Cabinet, which was a breach of the Procurement Act.              

“The Procurement Act and Regulations make no provision for the Minister of Public Infrastructure to take a procurement request directly to Cabinet for approval of award of a contract,” the PPC said.   

MPI on August 13th defended the single-sourcing, citing what it said were time constraints surrounding the need to complete the new bridge and the fact that Cabinet had been fully involved in the decision to hire LievenseCSO.

“MPI reiterates that lengthy procurement procedures were faithfully followed which did not yield suitable results. Having thereafter received a proposal which satisfied the government’s requirements for this project of national importance and given the relevant time constraints, it was felt that it was in Guyana’s interest to take advantage of the proposal. It is for this and other stated reasons that Cabinet’s approval was sought,” it said in a statement.

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