Thursday, August 27, 2009

Due diligence, Government of Guyana-style, as detailed by ghostwriter

Tendering is procedural open to all contracting services
PLEASE permit me to respond to a letter titled: ‘Why are there so many sole bids?’ in the Wednesday August 26 issue of the Kaieteur News.

Letter writer Dexter Fordyce stated that he noted recently that there have been many single bids. ‘It is as though there is a game going on in the tendering circle’, he asserted. Mr. Fordyce ranted about the apparent monopoly certain contracting firms have on certain projects; raved about how different things seem now from the time he was resident in Guyana; and asked what the functions of the procurement board are, in an effort to intimate that Government has been demonstrating nepotism in its award of contracts.

My immediate response to Mr. Fordyce’s missive is thus: When Government needs to contract out projects it does so by publishing invitations for bids. All contracting firms have equal access to invitations, and consequently, the right to respond accordingly. The National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB) considers the bids procedurally and awards the contract based on set criteria. If only a few contracting firms, or even ONE, would register interest in bidding for projects, it is no fault of NPTAB or the Government. Perhaps, appreciating their capabilities or lack thereof, certain contracting firms would enter the bidding process, or by the same token, abstain.

Additionally, while from an impulsive perspective, one may conclude that government has ‘relinquished’ the procurement of certain equipment; government actually procures equipment and machinery to execute certain projects which can be handled by people within its employ with the relevant expertise. A case in point is the move by the Ministry of Agriculture, through the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA), to execute earthen works as a preparatory phase of massive civil works currently executed in Regions Three, Four and Six. The drainage and irrigation works are executed by the NDIA at a cost of $200M. Had the project been contracted out, it would have depleted the national treasury by an additional $500M. The government does not have the capacity or expertise to undertake every project it wants executed; it certainly does not decide what the contract cost of a project would be. That is the right of the firm offering the service.

Is Mr. Fordyce a contractor? Did he ever respond to invitations for bids? Does he have proof that there is nepotism on the part of NPTAB or the government? Is he aware of NPTAB’s tendering procedures? The answers to these questions may in turn answer his questions.

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