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Consultants can be contractually held accountable for shoddy work- CDB official

L to R: Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh; CDB’s Head of Procurement, Norman Cameron and Secretary to the Treasury, Nirmal Rekha

The Head of Procurement at the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), Norman Cameron on Thursday advised the Guyana government to include penalty clauses in design and supervisory consultancy agreements if the quality of work ends up being substandard.

He said there was the option of putting “terms and conditions in the contract to ensure that there is some mechanism for redress.”

Cameron was reacting to concerns by Guyana’s Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh about poor quality work by design consultancies and the green-light that is given by supervisory consultancies.cdb workshop

Addressing the opening of the CDB’s Basic Needs Trust Fund Procurement and Management of Professional Services Workshop for Consultants, Singh lamented that whenever construction projects end up being unsatisfactory, he has to pay the political price. “When work is found to be defective and I have to pay the political cost for it upsets me greatly because I was paying somebody to make sure this work is done properly,” said Singh, the Chairman of the CDB’s Board of Governors.

Singh urged the participants to come up with a system for government to seek recourse from design consultants if there are variations or defects. He noted that unlike civil works contracts in which a portion of money is retained until after the end of the defects liability period, design consultancy contracts do not contain such provisions.

Noting that it is the engineers’ estimates that generally determine the bid price for projects, he said “the incidence of variation on civil works contracts is a matter of concern” due to design deficiencies, engineering bills of quantities or the quality of the ground. “Every variation poses a problem because we and often times there is limited recourse even where the design is found to deficient for those who were tasked with,” he said

The Finance Minister vowed that government would not tolerate instances in which supervising consultants’ issue evaluation certificates stating that the work has been done to specifications and steps should be taken for the contractor to be paid. “If valuation certificates are recklessly prepared and submitted and subsequently saw found to be flawed or defective, I would like to be able to penalise the recalcitrant, the delinquent or irresponsible consulting firm

He noted that Guyana has built a number of high quality bridges, schools and hospitals but in other cases, the quality of work has not been be to government’s satisfaction. He said the time has come to find ways to weed out poor performers. “You may think that it sounds like I want to penalise you but think of it differently. Think of it as rewarding good performers,” he said.

The workshop being held at Grand Coastal Hotel, Le Resouvennir, East Coast Demerara is dealing with several topics such as who decide the prequalfication criteria for contractors and evaluation criteria and evaluation reporting; national competitive bidding; other methods of procurement; environment, standards and maintenance as well as supervision, accountability and risk management.