Agriculture Ministry clears the air on contracts
Guyana Chronicle, 29 July 2009.
IN the past few weeks, the Kaieteur News has deliberately set out to create doubt and suspicion about the award of civil works contracts under the Ministry of Agriculture. We wish to advise that the award of contracts has always been done in a transparent manner. These contracts form part of a master D&I and Agricultural Transformation Plan.
The new administration, following the return of democracy in 1992, recognized the need for a transformation in the way we approach agricultural development. The government was partnered by international financial agencies, in particular, the Inter-American Development Bank [IDB], the World Bank [WB], and the International Fund for Agricultural Development [IFAD] in establishing the paradigm shift.
The early financing set about the development of new policy to create the enabling environment. By this process, autonomous agencies such as the Guyana Lands and Survey Commission and the Forestry Commission were established. Later financing allowed for the creation of the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority [NDIA]; and soon, new autonomous livestock development and plant services agencies will be established.
The drainage and irrigation systems that were implemented in the 1960s had been failing because of the lack of maintenance. It was necessary, in preparation for the promotion of non-traditional agriculture for export in fruits and vegetables, beef and aquaculture that will be implemented through the US$21.9 million IDB funded ADP, to rehabilitate the dilapidated drainage and irrigation systems.
This work has started and is being implemented through the Agricultural Support Services Program [ASSP]. The creation of the NDIA and its associated new legislation allows for the delegation of some of NDIA’s authority to Water Users Association [WUAs] in the pilot areas that are being rehabilitated. These are the districts where the ADP is expected to create the greatest impact. The operation and maintenance of the newly rehabilitated D&I systems under the indigenous WUAs are expected to be enhanced by more relevant decision making and the lowering of overhead cost.
The procurement and award of contracts for goods and services are subject to the provisions of the Procurement Act No. 8 of (2003). Generally, the procurement process involves a number of stages which include an identification of what is required (outcome), a competitive bidding process, an evaluation of bids, seeking an award of contract from the relevant authority, and negotiating, if necessary, the details of a contract with the successful bidder. Additionally, all awarded contracts are audited, under the Department which sought the award of contract, by either the Office of the Auditor General or a private audit agency.
The Table below outlines the approving authority for procurement of goods and services in the case of the Ministry of Agriculture:
Value of Goods and Services G$ Approving Authority
Less than 800,000 Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture
1M – 4M [Goods and services] Ministerial Tender Board [MTB]
Greater than 4M [Goods and services] National Procurement and Tender Administration Board [NPTAB]
1M – 8M [Construction] Ministerial Tender Board [MTB]
Greater than 8M [Construction] National Procurement and Tender Administration Board [NPTAB]
Contracts whose value exceed 15M Requires the ‘No Objection’ of the Cabinet
In the case of procurement of civil works, under the Ministry of Agriculture, from funds obtained from international donor agencies and the Government of Guyana, it is mandatory to seek the donor agency’s concurrence at every stage of the procurement process. The Table below provides a general outline of the procurement activities in relation to civil works:
Procurement Activity Funds Obtained from International Donor Agency1 Funds Obtained from Government of Guyana
Publication of Bid in local and international media Requires the no objection of Donor, MTB or NPTAB Requires the no objection of the MTB or the NPTAB
Public Opening of Bids MTB or NPTAB MTB or NPTAB
Appointment of Bid Evaluation Committee MTB or NPTAB MTB or NPTAB
Evaluation of Bids 3 members of a Committee appointed by the MTB or NPTAB 3 members of a Committee appointed by the MTB or NPTAB
Recommendations to Award Contract by Evaluation Committee No Objection to award is required from Donor and MTB or NPTAB and Cabinet in the case of awards greater than G$15M No Objection to award is required from MTB or NPTAB and Cabinet in the case of awards greater than G$15M
Notification of award to successful Contractor Done by the Agriculture Sector Development Unit [ASDU] Done by relevant Department of the Ministry of Agriculture
Commencement Order Done by the Agriculture Sector Development Unit [ASDU] Done by relevant Department of the Ministry of Agriculture
Works begin Done by the Agriculture Sector Development Unit [ASDU] Done by relevant Department of the Ministry of Agriculture
Supervision of Contractor Done by Supervision Firm awarded [separately] contract to supervise works Done by Supervision Firm awarded [separately]contract to supervise works
Closure of Contract Done by ASDU and Supervision Firm Done by Department and Supervision Firm
Retention Period ASDU and Supervision Firm Department and Supervision Firm
Final Closure of Contract ASDU and Supervision Firm Department and Supervision Firm
May differ from agency to agency or not applicable at all.
The Ministry of Agriculture has established the ASDU to manage projects funded by international lending agencies. To date, there are two projects funded by the IDB – the Agricultural Support Services Program (ASSP) and the Agricultural Export Diversification Program (ADP). The Conservancy Adaptation Project [CAP] is funded by the Special Climate Change Fund of the Global Environment Facility and is being managed by the World Bank. The following civil works contracts have been awarded under the various projects:
Project Awarded Contract Contract Value Contractor
ASSP – Civil Works Lot1 – Rehab of Control Structures and Access Roads, Vergeneogen/Bonasika and Den Amstel G$385,716,293 Roopan Ramotar Investments Inc
Lot 2 - Rehab of Control Structures and Access Roads, Vreed-en-Hoop/La Jalousie G$267,261,143 BK International Inc
Lot 3 - Rehab of Control Structures and Access Roads, GoldenGrove/Victoria G$202,006,063 Roopan Ramotar Investments Inc
Lot 4- Rehab of Control Structures and Access Roads, Crabwood Creek G$308,697,103 BK International Inc
ASSP – Supervision of Civil Works Lot1 – Supervision of Civil Works, Vergeneogen/Bonasika and Den Amstel G$24,259,800 SRKN’gineering
Lot 2 - Supervision of Civil Works, Vreed-en-Hoop/La Jalousie G$14,524,200 SRKN’gineering
Lot 3 - Supervision of Civil Works, GoldenGrove/Victoria G$14,524,200 SRKN’gineering
Lot 4- Supervision of Civil Works, Crabwood Creek G$23,028,300 SRKN’gineering
CAP - Rehabilitation of Lama Sluice G$49,300,000 A&S General Contacting Inc.
The IDB funded projects under the ASDU are audited by the audit firm of Ram &McRae, of which the principal partner is well known media columnist Mr. Christopher Ram. Other agencies and departments under the Ministry of Agriculture are audited by the Office of the Auditor General as well as subject to regular reviews by the Public Accounts Committee. Other agencies and departments under the Ministry of Agriculture such as the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority [NDIA] are audited by the Office of the Auditor General.
Information that is being requested on contracts is available on the NPTAB, IDB and Ministry of Agriculture websites. One must therefore question the sincerity or competence of the journalists that prepared the sensational stories in the press. Can we describe this as genuine reporting?
For a very long time, the Office of the Auditor General has not had cause for concern with the implementation of the significant amount of capital works implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture.
DINDYAL PERMAUL PhD
Ministry of Agriculture