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Chief Elections Officer distances GECOM from procurement for 2015 polls

Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield and GECOM Chairman, Dr. Steve Surujbally.

Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield and GECOM Chairman, Dr. Steve Surujbally.

The Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield on Sunday said the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) had nothing to do with the actual procurement of radio communication sets and instead said that was the work of various governmental arms under the then People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC)-led administration.

Lowenfield explained that his spending ceiling as CEO is GYD$249,999 and any amount over that has to go through the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB) and Cabinet.

“Outside of that if it is over 250,000 it goes to National Tender Board, which is the agency responsible for scrutiny and integrity of submissions made by agencies and contractors. We provide to them the contractors and who and are shortlisted. Once we hand over to the board the selecction of the provider is with the board,” he told reporters.

He noted that in the run-up to the 2015 general and regional elections, GECOM was still a budget agency with financial oversight having been the Ministry of Finance’s responsibility and the then Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Roger Luncheon playing a pivotal role.

The Chief Elections Officer said that depending on the items to be sourced and their amount, they were sent to the NPTAB for approval, then to Cabinet for its no-objection and announcement by Luncheon at a post-Cabinet briefing.

For the 2015 polls, Lowenfield said given the short time frame within which materials had to be procured for the efficient conduct of those elections, selective tendering was necessary in some instances. “Selective tendering was necessary,” he said.

The Chief Elections Officer’s response came as he and GECOM Chairman, Dr. Steve Surujbally continue to be under intense pressure about the procurement of GYD$100 million worth of High Frequency (HF) communication radios from Mobile Authority, an entity owned by city businessman Michael Brasse.

The  three People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP) election commissioners- Bibi Shadick, Sase Gunraj and Robeson Benn- last week raised several questions about alleged lack of transparency and accountability at that elections management authority.