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Opposition Leader’s office gearing up to protest contracts at Public Procurement Commission

The Public Procurement Commissioners: from left: Mrs. Carol Corbin, Mr. Sukrishnalall Pasha, President David Granger, Mr. Ivor Burnette English, former Minister of Labour, Mr. Nanda Kishore Gopaul and Ms. Emily Dodson at the Ministry of the Presidency.

The Public Procurement Commissioners: from left: Mrs. Carol Corbin, Mr. Sukrishnalall Pasha, President David Granger, Mr. Ivor Burnette English, former Minister of Labour, Mr. Nanda Kishore Gopaul and Ms. Emily Dodson at the Ministry of the Presidency.

Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo on Thursday announced that his office would help protest the award of multi-million dollar contracts by the Public Procurement Commission (PPC).

Now that the public procurement commission (PPC) has been established, Jagdeo has instructed members of his camp to investigate cases which warrant protests so that his office can follow through with those protests at the level of the commission. “We will use the Office of the Leader of the Opposition to lodge protests to the Public Procurement Commission,” he said.

Jagdeo told the press corps Thursday afternoon that his office was in receipt of information saying the Public Works Ministry was given the green light for sole sourcing over $400M in equipment.

The opposition leader said this gives the ministry the authority to purchase that equipment without going to the public tender process.

“We have seen the abuse of the force account. Money spent by public infrastructure is now being spent by force account. That is being used to siphon off tens of millions of dollars,” Jagdeo said.

He said a force account doesn’t have the kind of scrutiny that you have if you have a project publicly tendered. “This ministry has a proclivity towards using this method,” Jagdeo warned.

“Now that the PPC is in place, people can complain to the commission and they initiate investigations,” the Opposition Leader continued urging public entities to lodge protests to procurement processes, even utilizing his office to do same.

Asked whether his office would make a commitment not to politicize protest bids brought to the Opposition Leader’s Office, Jagdeo made a commitment that his party represents all of Guyana and not just the 49% of the population that voted for them in the 2015 general elections.

Jagdeo said his office would engage persons interested in making protests to the public procurement commission since this is a matter of transparency.

He noted that with the establishment of the PPC Cabinet no longer has any oversight role in offering its no-objection to contracts that have been approved by the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board.

Jagdeo said no Cabinet member is expected to call the PPC to request approval for projects.

While in government, the PPP-Civic had held up the establishment of the constitutionally required PPC, saying that government was ultimately responsible for the spending of public funds and should have the final say.

The five-member PPC is chaired by Carol Corbin. The Commission’s salaries and other benefits have been approved and its office is temporarily housed at Parliament Building.