PAC highlights; reveals in some cases fewer than four persons were invited to bid for contracts
AS the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) unearthed numerous breached procedures, the 185 contracts totalling $748.003 million in Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice), which were not publicly advertised in 2019 under the APNU+AFC administration, came into focus.
On Monday, the PAC scrutinised the issue and blazed the former Regional Executive Officer (REO) of Region Five, Ovid Morrison, for these operations during the 2019 period.
According to the 2019 Auditor General’s (AG) Report, audit examination of contracts for both current and capital expenditures revealed that 185 contracts totalling $748.003 million were not publicly advertised and as such, were awarded by means of restrictive tendering.
It was further highlighted that the Procurement Act 2003 Chapter 25 (2) states that the procuring entity may use a method of procurement other than public tendering proceedings in which case the procuring entity shall include in the records, a statement of the grounds and circumstances on which it relied to justify the use of that particular method of procurement.
However, no such statement was presented for audit scrutiny.
Also, audit checks reveal that the Regional Procurement and Tender Administration Board (RPTAB) did not invite all its prequalified contractors to submit tenders for which they were qualified.
Further, the AG report disclosed that analysis of the RPTAB minutes revealed that the Tender Board had invited a maximum of four contractors and, in some instances, fewer than four, to submit tenders for 109 contracts valued at $417.023 million of the 185 contracts.
Responding to this shocking revelation, PAC member, Bishop Juan Edghill, said: “This is a pattern in 2019 in Region Five how contracts were awarded. No advertising, less [sic] than four people and it is the same recurring four or three [persons].”
When Edghill pressed the former REO for a justification behind this, Morrison said he could not recall.
“This is [the] whole system in every programme in 2019 in Region Five,” Edghill said, as he highlighted other irregularities within the region at that time.
Opposition Parliamentarian Ganesh Mahipaul who chaired the proceedings, shared his non-support for how these contracts were awarded and the former REO’s reply to the matter, which was that he could not recall.
“I must say that this level of practice is something that we at the PAC would not support,” Mahipaul remarked, while adding: “We cannot continue to operate in this manner, we should not operate in this manner and we must ensure that taxpayers’ [monies] are accounted for in the most prudent financial way, and in keeping with the laws that govern this great land of ours.”