Cabinet illegally presiding over issuing contracts

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…as Govt turns blind eye to hold onto review powers – Nandlall

The Cabinet Council of Ministers continues to exercise a review over contracts in violation of the Procurement Act – and unfortunate scenario since the Chairperson of the Commission is condoning and attempting to publicly justify this illegality.

Former Attorney General, Anil Nandlall
Former Attorney General, Anil Nandlall

This is according to former Attorney General Anil Nandlall, who has since pointed to the Public Procurement Commission (PPC) Chairperson Carol Corbin, who is quoted in the press as saying that Cabinet will have to be weaned off reviewing contracts before the Commission takes over.

According to Nandlall, “it would appear that the Government is turning a blind eye to this effrontery because they really do not want to relinquish Cabinet’s role of reviewing contracts…This is the height of hypocrisy.”

He told Guyana Times, that in section 54(6) of the Procurement Act, Chapter 73:05 states, “Cabinet’s involvement under this section shall cease upon the constitution of the Public Procurement Commission [PPC] except in relation to those matters referred to in subsection(1) which are pending.”

According to Nandlall, it is clear, that the weaning ought only to relate to contracts which are pending before Cabinet.

He said that from October 28, 2016, to date, there should not be matters which are still pending.

“More significantly, Cabinet continues, unabatedly, to review new contracts, in clear violation of the express language of section 54(6) of the Procurement Act… Therefore, every contract that is currently being reviewed by Cabinet is tainted with unlawfulness and illegality and can be legally challenged… This must stop now.”

Nandlall told Guyana Times that the coalition A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC), while in Opposition, promised the establishment of the PPC and were very clear and emphatic in their assertion that once the Commission is established, Cabinet review of contracts will cease.

“It will be recalled, that both, more so, the AFC was condign in their condemnation of Cabinet’s review of contracts. All manner of corrupt motives were ascribed to the PPP/C Administration for its Cabinet’s role in the review of contracts.”

He said too that in Government, the APNU/AFC had to be virtually dragged to establish this Commission. Ironically, it is the PPP/C’s public pressure which caused them to relent.

“Of course, the Commission could not have been established without the PPP/C’s support, because the nominees to this Commission require the support of two-thirds (2/3) of the Members of the National Assembly.”

Members of the PPC were sworn in on October 28, 2016, “yet, Cabinet continues to exercise a review over contracts…This is a violation of the Procurement Act. It is unfortunate that the Chairperson of the Commission is condoning and attempting to publicly justify this illegality.”

Nandlall this past week during an exclusive interview with this publication had accused the Administration of hand-picking contractors for specific contracts even as the PPC remains inoperable.

He told Guyana Times that “a new trend is now developing… whenever the tender process does not deliver the desired result and produces a contractor who is not a favoured one of the Administration, the tender process is rescinded for some spurious reason, and the process is done all over again with a view to procure the desired contractor”.

The former Attorney General insists “this defeats the entire Procurement Act and indeed, is an affront to the public procurement process”.

He has since charged that the practice was also illegal and was a corrupt act which must end now.

“Significantly, it results in massive delays in getting public works done and services rendered to the people of the country,” Nandlall noted.

All of the members of the Commission were sworn in by Head of State, David Granger in October last.

The members include Attorney Emily Dodson; Carol Corbin, wife of former Opposition Leader Robert Corbin; Dr Nanda Gopaul, a trade unionist and former Labour Minister under the previous Administration; University of Guyana lecturer Sukrishnalall Pasha, and Ivor English, Critchlow College Principal and former head of Transport and Harbours Department.

Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has in recent days, been voicing dissatisfaction over the lack of transparency surrounding numerous contracts awarded by the Administration and has signalled his intention to use his office to lodge formal complaints with the PPC. (Reprinted: Guyana Times)

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