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JUTC BOSS ADMITS PILOT PROJECT COULD’VE BEEN PUT TO TENDER

Michele Marius 08/11/2017 0

Managing Director of the Jamaica Urban Transit Company, Paul Abrahams, is admitting that it perhaps could’ve put to tender a temporary arrangement with a private security company.

Yesterday the JUTC outlined that it had an agreement with a company, Millennium Security Limited, to provide additional security services on a temporary pilot basis to protect spare parts which it said appeared to vanish from the company from time to time.

That arrangement ended on September 20.

The bus company made the disclosure in response to the Opposition who accused the JUTC of entering into a $50-million contract with MSL in breach of the government procurement guidelines.

The JUTC has denied that there’s a current contract with Millennium Security.

Mr. Abrahams says the JUTC did engage MSL for a six-month pilot project which ended last month. He said in hindsight it perhaps should’ve gone to tender.

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Image:  Jamaica Star

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Make notes on Cabinet decision public

Michele Marius 08/11/2017 0

Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan is now being asked to ensure all tender reports are published, if state agency NIDCO has nothing to hide in the award of a $400 million contract to Kallco for the first phase of the Toco to Manzanilla Highway.

Chartered surveyor and managing director of Raymond and Pierre, Afra Raymond, said although Sinanan said he had recused himself from the discussion and decision by Cabinet for award of the contract, given the tradition of Cabinet secrecy, it is impossible to verify the that assertion.

He was responding to reports that Sinanan had declared a family relationship with the owner of Kallco and recused himself when Cabinet discussed the NIDCO recommendation to award the $400 million contract to the company. At the sod turning ceremony for the start of the project last week, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley said Kallco was one of six companies that tendered for the project and had the lowest bid.

Raymond said in the interest of transparency and good governance, the Cabinet minute should be made public “to see who was in the room and present when the decision was made.” Since it was a commercial transaction involving millions of tax payers dollars,e the government should “remove the shroud of secrecy” and make the minute public, he said.

“If the state agency and the ministry really have nothing to hide, Minister Sinanan must now ensure that all the tender reports are published,” he said.

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Image:  Pixabay (Pexels)

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‘Proof’ Infrastructure Ministry tampering with contracts

Michele Marius 08/11/2017 0

…has a track record and I am giving the evidence of it – Jagdeo

The Public Infrastructure Ministry under the helm of Minister David Patterson, is accused of deliberately tampering with the procurement process in order to ensure contracts are handed out to favoured contractors.

Former President Bharrat Jagdeo on Wednesday met with members of the local press corps at his Church Street Office and provided documentation to this effect.

Jagdeo told reporters the Ministry has adopted a strategy where it advertises and invites persons to bid for projects but at the last minute, annul the process. The Ministry would then go on to negotiate a contract with a chosen ‘cronies’, according to Jagdeo.

As he sought to outline the Administration’s penchant for annulling the process and then opting to negotiate with favoured contractors, the Opposition Leader said this does not obtain only in the case of the well-publicised Feasibility Report for the new Demerara River bridge.

The Opposition Leader supplied media operatives with a paper trail for other contracts which clearly shows the Ministry annulling the process before going on to select favoured contractors.

One such project involved the multimillion-dollar reconstruction of the Administrative Blocks for the Georgetown prison – being undertaken by the Public Infrastructure Ministry and not the Public Security Ministry.

A total of 20 companies had been shortlisted from a prequalification process and were invited by the Permanent Secretary, Geoffrey Vaughn.

According to documentation seen by Guyana Times, the Permanent Secretary invited the 20 companies to conduct a site visit on July 27, 2017 and were to respond by the following day on whether or not they would be submitting a bid for the project.

The visit was the following day rescheduled by the Ministry’s Work Services Group Manager, for Procurement and Contracts, Philip Bryan.

The procurement manager, by way of email, a copy of which was seen by this publication, indicated that the site visit for the project was rescheduled for the following day, Friday, July 27, 2017.

On July 28, 2017, Permanent Secretary Vaughn 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.”

Vaughn, in giving reason, points to its clause which speaks to the “Employer’s right to accept any bid and to reject any or all bids.”

Another such project for which Jagdeo presented documentation in defence of his claims related to the pedestrian overpasses being constructed along the East Bank corridors.

In January of this year, bids were opened at the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB) at which point it was determined that 16 companies had submitted their bids.

In March, the Permanent Secretary wrote to the companies informing them that the contract had been awarded to B&J Civil Works.

Vaughn, in his missive to bidders, noted “accordingly, please be advised that your Bid Bon is released and accordingly, you are released from any performance under this bid.”

The Permanent Secretary three days later wrote to the company indicating that the process had been annulled.

According to Jagdeo, “they annul the bid process after they award the contract… another set of corruption in the same Ministry.”

The Opposition Leader was adamant too that the Ministry needs to come clean and explain what was currently happening with the feasibility study for the Wismar/Mackenzie Bridge in Linden, Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice).

He recalled that Minister Patterson’s web of lies had entangled this project too since he had claimed that it was being funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) but this turned out not to be the case.

Patterson had also erroneously claimed that the IDB was also funding the feasibility report for the new Demerara River bridge.

Jagdeo told reporters that ever since November last year the tenders had been opened for the feasibility study for the Wismar/Mackenzie Bridge.

“How come from November 30, 2016, to now they have not awarded this contract for the Wismar Bridge,” the Opposition Leader questioned.

The former President was adamant, “we are getting a bunch of lies and corruption, unbelievable levels of corruption in this Ministry.”

He told media operatives the Administration has developed a modus operandi where it has a penchant for annulling tenders, “when the desired person doesn’t get the bid, win the bid, one of their cronies.”

Jagdeo recalled too that the same practice obtained by the David Patterson run Ministry for the multibillion-dollar Sherriff Street upgrade.

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Image:  David McBee (Pexels)

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Georgetown Prison contract was annulled to have it transferred- Patterson

Michele Marius 08/11/2017 0

– says Ministry was only providing “technical support”

The Public Infrastructure Ministry has come out to admit that a tender to reconstruct the administrative blocks of the Georgetown Prison was annulled. But pushing back against allegations of cronyism, the Ministry is claiming that this was to allow the project to be transferred.

According to Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson, in a statement, the process was annulled because the Ministry was not the subject Ministry. According to the Minister, his Ministry was just providing “technical support”.

“ The process was indeed annulled; the cries of cronyism by the Opposition are more of their mischievous attempts to spread falsehoods. The annulment was to allow for the project to fall under the relevant Ministry, which in this case is the Ministry of Public Security.”

“The Opposition presents these documents that are indeed official, because the Ministry publicly puts the information out there; this is information that is in the public domain,” Patterson continued, going on to accuse the political Opposition of half-truths.

At his last press conference, Opposition Leader Dr Bharrat Jagdeo supplied media operatives with a paper trail for other contracts which clearly showed the Ministry annulling the processes.

One such project involved the multi-million-dollar reconstruction of the administrative blocks for the Georgetown Prison – being undertaken by the Public Infrastructure Ministry and not the Public Security Ministry.

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Image:  Stabroek News

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Public Infrastructure Ministry’s tender notice for Demerara bridge is intolerably ambiguous

Michele Marius 08/11/2017 0

Dear Editor,

The headline story of SN on September 28, 2017 that ‘Restricted bidding for the new Demerara River bridge raises red flags’ provides the opportunity to revisit the earlier prequalification tender notice by the Ministry of Public Infrastructure (MPI) for the “finance, design, build and [maintenance]” of the bridge. That tender invitation, based on its text and subsequent events, is intolerably ambiguous. In addition the ‘restricted bidding’ in your article is worthy of comment.

As a side note: this writer wrote Stabroek News about a year ago stating that legislation was needed to regulate the private funding of public projects (‘Legislation is needed for public-private partnerships’, Oct 1, 2016 ). In my view that legislation is still needed now and urgently so, as the Procurement Act, at least as presently existing, cannot properly encompass the regulation of private funding, or any other type of funding, for public projects where costs are recovered from user-citizens directly.

To return to the tender invitation: this is careful to state that it is envisaged that the bridge will be completed by 2020. This is an admission, perhaps unintended, that the new bridge will be part of the election campaign by the current government. Relevant here is the recent article under ‘Ian on Sunday’: ‘Thinking, already, about the next general election’ (SN Sept 3, 2017) in which the writer highlights “people worrying” about the next general election in Guyana, and reasons that this is terrible for the nation. On the other hand, though clear on completion time, the tender invitation exhibits ambiguity on whether the bridge will be built by government loan, or private capital via investors and bankers.

The invitation requests contractors to offer lump sum bids for design and construction of the bridge. The “complete basic design” will be provided by MPI as a reference. Conflictingly contractors are also requested, “in order to improve the funding package…” to “…advance proposals for financing the project”, all confirmed by later statements of MPI. No reference is made as to the availability of a prospectus or similar document, needed by a financier in these circumstances. Even if a prospectus is available, these two requests are incompatible with each other. The first is for the design and construction of the bridge, evidently to be funded by government loan. The bid can be based, correctly so, on the physical characteristics and environment of the location (“complete basic design”) and a bid can be accepted following a lump sum offer. However the second request (to “advance proposals for financing”) requires private investors to be attracted to the construction if they perceive the bridge to be viable in giving a surplus on investment. Diverse interests need to be met: that of the government in gaining a quality bridge; the investor in obtaining an adequate financial return; and the investor’s bank in gaining worthwhile loan interest and charges. In this case it is highly unlikely that a bid can be accepted after offer of a lump sum, since other essential criteria including ‘value for money’ and ‘affordability’ should need to be established and agreed, usually by negotiation, and the outcome is dependent on just how risks are allocated between the government and the private investor (with the investor’s bank taking all possible steps to avoid risks).

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Image:  Wikipedia 

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