Cops studying request for probe of award of Demerara bridge feasibility contract

Gail Teixeira

The request made by opposition Chief Whip Gail Teixeira for a comprehensive investigation of the award of a contract to Dutch firm LievenseCSO for a feasibility study for a new bridge over the Demerara River is engaging the police’s attention, the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) says.

SOCU’s head Sydney James made this known in a written response sent to Teixeira on Thursday.

The letter, a copy of which was shared with the media by Teixeira yesterday, informed that the Minister of Public Security, acting Commissioner of Police and the Police Legal Advisor have been informed of her request.

Teixeira’s request to James followed a finding by the Public Procurement Commission (PPC) that the Ministry of Public Infrastructure (MPI) breached the country’s procurement laws in the single-sourcing the contract to the Dutch company.

She urged that there be a comprehensive investigation with a view to instituting criminal charges against the subject minister David Patterson.

James, in his response, acknowledged receipt of Teixeira’s correspondence, which is dated August 15th, 2018, along with supporting documents. “The matter is now engaging the attention of the Guyana Police Force,” James wrote.

The PPC, in its findings, said 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 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 Patterson 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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