Demerara River Bridge: Govt breached procurement laws in awarding contract to Dutch firm

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…Could result in Patterson, entire Cabinet being charged with corruption- Jagdeo

General Secretary of the PPP Dr Bharrat Jagdeo

The report by the Public Procurement Commission (PPC) on the investigation into the consultancy services for the feasibility study for the design of the new Demerara River Bridge could see the Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson and the entire Cabinet being charged with corruption.

This is according to General Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), Dr Bharrat Jagdeo on Thursday as he disclosed that according to the report, Patterson and Government breached the Public Procurement laws when they selected an unsolicited proposal.

“ It’s either Patterson has to bear the brunt of it or the entire Cabinet because it had Cabinet approval so this is an unbelievable act of corruption,” he said while disclosing to media operatives that the PPP intends to send the report to the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU).

“…let me make it clear…we plan to send this report to SOCU given that when Mr. [Sam] Sittlington made a presentation in Parliament, and our Opposition MPs there pointed out that they were not investigating the numerous instances of corruption, egregious cases of corruption under this Government, that they seem to have their focus only on a few PPP people, he said, you can write up, submit the report…So we will be writing SOCU and submitting their report and then we will follow it up there,” he said.

The PPC report, as seen by this publication, outlined that after some 23 companies had expressed an interest to provide consultancy services, 12 were shortlisted and two managed to submit their proposals on time.

However, Government and the two companies failed to reach an agreement in their negotiations and as such, the tender was annulled.

The National Tender & Procurement Administration Board (NPTAB) then recommended that the Ministry of Infrastructure re tender. However, they did not.

According to the report, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Public Infrastructure (MPI) “informed the Public Procurement Commission that subsequent to annulment of the tender by MPI, [Dutch Company LievenseCSO] Engineering contracting BV submitted an unsolicited proposal to provide consultancy services for the Demerara River bridge project.

“The PPC noted that the Minster of Public Infrastructure, by memorandum dated November 18 2016, made a request to the Cabinet for Government seeking consideration and approval to use funds from the Demerara Harbor Bridge Corporation to fund the feasibility study and to commence a contractual engagement with LievenseCSO as of the 1 Jan 2017.

The PPC noted that this request to Cabinet was not forwarded through the NPTA but submitted directly by the Minister of Public Infrastructure. The PPC also noted that Cabinet considered the memorandum submitted by the Minister of Public Infrastructure and in November 2016 approved a total sum of $161, 514, 420 to be used from the Demerara Harbor Bridge Corporation to cover cost for the feasibility study for a new bridge across the Demerara river.”

Moreover, the report also stated that “Mr. Rawlston Adams, General Manager of the DHC signed the contract. Mr. Adams informed the PPC that the Board of the DHC was not a party to the decision to use these funds for this purpose as approved by Cabinet and further stated that he had not signed the contract on behalf of the DHC only because he was requested to do so by the Minister of Public Infrastructure.”

The Opposition via its Chief Whip Gail Teixeira had lodged a formal complaint in September of 2017 with the Procurement Commission, calling for an investigation into the selection and award of the contract to the Dutch firm.

In a letter to PPC Chairperson Carol Corbin, Teixeira outlined that the company did not tender for the project, but yet it was awarded the multimillion-dollar contract.

The Commission in concluding its report sent the findings to the PPP.

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