The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) will be taking a more hands-on approach to assisting Guyana, as well as other regional members, to become adept at implementing its funded developmental projects. The CDB’s Director of Projects, Daniel Best speaking with DPI on the sidelines on the bank’s annual press conference, said that procurement hurdles are recognised as the main challenge.
Best explained that the procurement process of recruiting contractors and consultants and undertaking the necessary evaluations to ensure a fair and transparent process is often challenging due to the capacity constraints. He added that many of the actors “in-country” are constrained by competing priorities. “We are not like one of the larger countries in the world where public servants tend to do one thing, at a time. Our public-sector actors deal with the CDB, deal with the World Bank and deal with the IDB [Inter-American Development Bank], then they also have their business responsibilities, so evaluation often takes a bit of time,” the Projects Director said.
To address these challenges, Best stated that the CDB is undertaking a number of procurement reforms and working closely with members to examine their acquisition systems. He added CDB, like other developmental agencies, is working closer with countries to ensure, “the country’s procurement systems are open, transparent, fair and robust enough that as development financing institutions, they can use their systems because they would be aligned with our harmonized procurement systems”.
The CDB official also cited the need to have public servants, engineers and other stakeholders “upskilled”. This, he said, will ensure that the procurement process will happen more seamlessly. The implementation process is another challenge, the CDB is moving to address, especially in its supervisory role.
Whilst the bank is also constrained by various competing priorities, Best said that the agency is tweaking and revising some of its responsibilities for many of its ‘in-country Officers’ to give them more time to be closer to their respective borrowing member countries.
He posited, “If you are assigned, for example to Guyana to supervise that project, you will now have more time to focus on supervision. Consider the benefits of this. You already have the project coordinator in-country. You will also have engineering consultants, in-country. If we now are able to create the space for the CDB officer to walk the project coordinator through our processes. To guide them through the evaluation process, we can get to start the construction works, much faster. Therein is the problem, we are grappling with, and intent on resolving in the years ahead.”
The Caribbean Development Bank, headquartered in Barbados, is funding in part the West Coast Demerara Road Improvement Project, at a cost US$46.8M, with the Government.
The project includes approximately 30.7 kilometres of highway rehabilitation works; bridge replacement and repair; drainage works; and road safety works that install regulatory and warning signage, pavement markings and safety barriers along severe curves. In addition, pedestrians and cyclists will be separated from motorised traffic through several communities and additional street lighting will be provided.