Patterson’s excuse for annulling Prison contract reflects either ‘gross incompetence or a cover up’- PPP/C

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The People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C)  has responded to the admission emanating from the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, headed by David Patterson, that the tendering process for the award of a contract to reconstruct the administrative blocks of the Georgetown Prison was annulled.

Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson

The Ministry noted the reason for the annulment was to “allow for the project to fall under the relevant Ministry, which in this case is the Ministry of Public Security.”

According to the PPP/C this admission now raises more questions; such as, “how was it that the Ministry of Public Infrastructure went as far as to invite contractors to submit bids, before realizing that it was taking on works and spending money budgeted under the Ministry of Public Security?”

Moreover, the Party says the excuse given by the Public Infrastructure Ministry, now puts the Public Security Ministry, headed by Khemraj Ramjattan, in the spotlight.

Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan

See their full statement below:

The Ministry of Public Infrastructure, through its Public Relations officer, has admitted that the tender process for Emergency Works at the Georgetown Prison, relative to the construction of administrative blocks, was annulled.

The Ministry has also stated that the annulment was to allow for the project to fall under the relevant ministry, the Ministry of Public Security.

The Public Infrastructure was also responsible for technical support.

The response from the Ministry led by Minister David Patterson makes three definitive statements.

ANNULMENT

First, Patterson’s response is an admission, as it relates to his proclivity to annul tenders and flaunt procurement procedures – which is a major point made by the political Opposition.

That said, his admission that the tender process was annulled raises even more questions.

How was it that the Ministry of Public Infrastructure went as far as to invite contractors to submit bids, before realizing that it was taking on works and spending money budgeted under the Ministry of Public Security?

A total of 20 companies were shortlisted from a prequalification process. All 20 companies were informed of this on July 25, in a letter from the Public Infrastructure Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Geoffrey Vaughn.

The companies were invited to conduct a “mandatory” site visit on July 27, 2017, by the Ministry of Public Infrastructure.  The companies were given one day, the deadline being July 28, 2017, to respond and indicated their intention to bid for the works.

The companies were informed that they then had two days after the site visit (the deadline being July 31, 2017 at 11:00hours) to deliver sealed bids to the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB).

The July 27, 2017 site visit was then rescheduled by the Ministry’s Work Services Group Manager, for Procurement and Contracts, Philip Bryan. In an email to the 20 companies, Bryan explained that the site visit was now fixed for July 28, 2017. However, following his July 25, 2017 letter, Vaughn, on July 28, 2017, wrote again to the bidders saying, “The Ministry regrets to inform you that a decision was taken by the executing agency to annul this bid.”

All of this occurred, before the tender process was annulled.

The Guyanese people would recall that during the consideration of Financial Paper, 2/ 2017, the matter of Minister Patterson answering questions as it related to capital works budgeted under the Ministry of Public Security was raised by the political Opposition.

Is it gross incompetence? Is Patterson admitting to incompetence? Or is this a manifestation of a poorly disguised attempt to cover up an act of corruption?

RAMJATTAN NOW IN THE SPOTLIGHT

The excuse given by the Public Infrastructure Ministry – that the annulment was to allow for the project to fall under the relevant ministry, the Ministry of Public Security – now puts Minister Khemraj Ramjattan in the spotlight.

None of the substantial questions raised by the political Opposition about the works at the Georgetown Prison have been answered.  All that we have seen are excuses that not only raise questions about Minister Patterson’s competence, as we have pointed out, but now leave Minister Ramjattan in the proverbial ‘hot seat’.

That said, the questions raised by the political Opposition bear repeating:

  1. What tender process was used to award the contract for the works at the administrative building at the Georgetown Prisons?
  2. Who is the contractor that was engaged?
  3. What is the cost of the contract?
  4. What technical support was provided by the Public Infrastructure Ministry and what role MPI played in the evaluation of the tenders?

It must be noted that the National Procurement and Tender Administration website gives no information on any bid process involving the Ministry of Public Security and the works at the Georgetown Prison in question.  The Ministry of Public Security’s website also details no information, save for a September 26, 2017 tender for works at the other prisons.

While the Public Infrastructure Ministry’s response attempted, futilely, to discredit the concerns raised by the  political Opposition, the fact remains that Patterson continues to avoid core and substantive issues, in the face of serious concerns as it relates to the rule of law, adherence to the procurement laws and about corrupt acts.

While Patterson and his spokesperson talks up “mischievous attempts to spread falsehoods,” the Guyanese people would have remained in the dark, thinking that all is well, had it not been for the efforts of the political Opposition.

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