Govt to raise ceiling for restricted contracts from $3M to $10M

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  • MP slams move as “recipe for corruption”

In a move being criticised by a Member of Parliament as a recipe for corruption, Government has gazetted changes to Guyana’s procurement laws that will see larger contracts being awarded without the benefit of advertising.

The gazetted Procurement (Amendment) Bill of 2019 signed by Finance Minister Winston Jordan will change the previous threshold for restricted contracts for goods and services from $3 million to $10 million.

In the case of construction contracts, the threshold catered for in Section 26 of the Procurement Act has been moved from $10 million to $20 million. Quotation methods of procurement have been raised to $3 million.

According to Member of Parliament Juan Edghill, this is likely to create an opportunity for the coalition Government to hand out contracts to unqualified persons and companies on a larger scale than ever before.

Former Junior Finance Minister, Juan Edghill

“This action enables award of contract without Public Advertisement, by way of Restricted Tendering and subverts the use of qualifications for this procurement process to be confined to specialised services or procurement of highly-complex items,” Edghill said in a Letter.

“It can only be concluded that this decision is to facilitate corruption, cronyism and nepotism, by way of handpicking friends and cronies and awarding them contracts. This is a blatant political scheme to buy votes and especially pilfer the public purse and to enrich officials of the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change over the few remaining days in office ahead of (elections),” he added.

Edghill also zeroed in on a letter dated February 4, 2019, written by Deputy Chairman of the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB), Mark Bender and addressed to Permanent Secretaries, agency heads and regional administrations.

In the letter, he alerts them to the changes and announces that they take immediate effect. But Edghill said considering the passage of the No-confidence Motion on December 21, 2018, Government’s actions are illegal in this regard.

Finance Minister Winston Jordan

“Article 106(6) of our Constitution states that on passage of a no-confidence motion by the majority of all elected members of the National Assembly, the President and his Cabinet shall resign, coupled with the CJ’s ruling of January 31, 2019 that following the passage of the motion, the President and Cabinet stands resigned.”

“Therefore, they are merely in office in a caretaker capacity and as such, these actions are unconstitutional. It is therefore logical that the letter by Mr Mark Bender authorising (officials) to implement these new thresholds is illegal and will lead to criminal proceedings being instituted against public officials who may be tempted to act on such a directive which is illegal.”

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