Evaluation criteria for contractors should be revised – Jagdeo

Vice President Dr Bharrat Jagdeo

The evaluation criteria employed by the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB) for contractors should be revised to allow new companies to bid for government contracts.

This is according to Vice President Dr Bharrat Jagdeo who was on Thursday responding to concerns regarding the controversial $865M contract, awarded to Tepui Group, which was later flagged for failure to meet qualifications on experience and other areas.

But Jagdeo said the government needs to “ensure that there is no arbitrariness in the application of evaluation criteria.”

He explained that when releasing a request for bids for multiple contracts, the evaluators must consider the availability of contractors that meet the stated qualifications and experience.

“If you know that the market does not have enough bidders, so you’re going out for 17 contracts and you can’t give all 17 to one or two persons with the experience but you want all 17 to be constructed, you have to craft the evaluation criteria in a manner that would allow you to stick rigidly with it,” he said.

The Public Procurement Commission (PPC) recently investigated the contract to Tepui Group for the construction of a Pump Station at Belle Vue, West Bank Demerara (WBD) where it was found that the company was only established in August 2022 and therefore failed to meet the criteria of having successfully completed projects of a similar nature and size within the last three years.

However, the Vice President pointed out that there have been instances where established contracting firms have not been able to deliver their projects within the deadlines.

“I’ve seen contractors…that have a long track record of prior experience and the projects are now delayed too. So, delay is a function of the particular project and often it is not about the contractor’s capacity because many of the contractors who have the full capacity, they have so much work to that they are not fulfilling the contracts on time,” he told reporters.

Asked whether the Government will be cancelling the Pump Station contract, Jagdeo did not provide a direct answer. Instead, he alluded to the mechanisms in place to address concerns relating to any Government contract. These mechanisms include the court.

Following the submission of the PPC report, Minister with responsibility for Finance Dr. Ashni Singh had said the recommendations contained in the report will be implemented.
These recommendations included legislative changes.

Meanwhile, some of the issues flagged by the PPC related to the company’s lack of experience; having only been registered in 2022; its absence of a bank line of credit; and its failure to submit an audited financial statement.

The company also fell short of its bid security requirement. However, the Commission said it could not do anything about the situation since the contract was already signed.

Nevertheless, the PPC had advised that the project be strictly monitored for performance and if the contractor is found in breach, that the necessary steps, including termination, be taken.