By Fareeza Haniff
[www.inewsguyana.com] – The APNU+AFC government is clamping down on those contractors who attempt to fleece the administration of monies by seeking extension on their contracts.
Minister of State, Joseph Harmon told a post cabinet media briefing on Wednesday, September 23, 2015 that the Ministries of Public Infrastructure, Business and Finance have been tasked with creating new guidelines for contractors and to brief them on the penalties attached for breach of contract.
According to Harmon, the government intends to scrutinize all existing contracts for areas of default and shoddy work, while the Ministry of Public Infrastructure is seeking to establish an Inspectorate Division, aimed at inspecting all government funded projects, in order to ensure that the country is getting value for its money.
“Cabinet had some very firm words to say to the manner in which the contracts were executed under the previous administration and the fact that contract sums were being extended, extended, extended beyond the sum that was actually catered for in the award of the contract,” Harmon told the media.
According to him, it appears to Cabinet that some of the contracts were “deliberately under-bidded…people were bidding low and knowing fully well that they were going to come later on for variations so that in a process like that, tenderers who could have done the work, they were actually cheated out of the contracts because some persons deliberately bidded low and the contracts were awarded to the lowest bidder, knowing fully well that they will come back for variations which eventually took the contract sum beyond what was the engineer’s estimate.”
Cabinet was confronted with this situation when it examined the award for an extension of the consultancy service for the Kato Secondary School.
“This is a Primary School that started at about $500M and is almost an a $1 billion now and it’s still not finished and so the Company that is supervising the work of that contract, they’ve actually now come back to Cabinet to ask for an extension which will cost another $4.2M on the construction services that are being provided,” Harmon explained.
He further noted, “So what you’re finding here now is that you’re probably having a consultancy service that is approving extensions after extensions on the original contract so that they themselves have now come to Cabinet to ask for an extension of their own contract.”
According to Harmon, Cabinet has since instructed Minister of Education, Dr Rupert Roopnarine to meet with the Contracting Service “and have some very firm words with them to the effect that we’re not going to tolerate any further extensions because it’s basically becoming a travesty, the way in which these matters are dealt with.”