Guyana set to phase out Cabinet’s role in awarding contracts

Last Updated on Tuesday, 19 July 2016, 11:31 by Denis Chabrol

Junior Finance Minister, Jaipaul Sharma on Tuesday said government would soon increase the ceiling for contracts for which Cabinet must offer its no-objection if agreement could not be reached on establishing the more transparent Public Procurement Commission.

“The law stipulates that Cabinet’s role should be phased out and by government increasing the limit is an indication that we are going to phase out if the Parliament does not agree to this (Public Procurement) Commission,” he  told reporters.

Currently the Procurement Act provides for Cabinet to review all procurements which exceed GYD$15 million, but Sharma hinted that amount could increase to about GYD$40 million to GYD$50 million. The law states that the Cabinet and, upon its establishment, the Public Procurement Commission, shall review annually the Cabinet’s threshold for review of procurements, with the objective of increasing that threshold over time so as to promote the goal of progressively phasing out Cabinet involvement and decentralising the procurement process.

Addressing the opening of a Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM)- National Procurement and Tender Administration Board one-day sensitization workshop on public procurement, Sharma conceded that getting support from the opposition People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) to agree to the members of the Public Procurement Commission would be difficult. “In the interim what government did because, as you know the two-thirds would be a little difficult task for any government; the previous government found it difficult, this government will also find it difficult so in the interim this administration decided to look at increasing the various limits of the boards,”he said. He explained that the limits for ministerial, regional tender  and national tender boards to assist in the processing of contracts so they do not have to be sent to the  National Tender Board for consideration.

The Junior Finance Minister said government has already increased the number of paid project evaluators who would meet regularly and report to the various tender boards. “It’s an effort to speed up the process so contracts will be awarded in a more speedy manner,” he said.

Sharma said that government would soon enforce regulations that require aggrieved bidders to pay a fee to file protests at the level of the Bid Protest Committee.  “Those that are making the protest will have to lodge a fee…and if you make a claim (that is) a wild accusation you can lose your money,” he said. “That can be away to prevent people from just objecting willy-nilly and have serious grounds,” he added.

He stayed clear of saying whether the award of a GYD$221.4 million contract to Puran Brothers Inc to manage the Haags-Bosch Landfill, East Bank Demerara was above board. “I don’t want to pronounce on it because it is engaging the attention of the Bid Protest Committee but there is the first test of it and we want to see how it will work,” he said. He said often times concerns are based on perception and so they could seek recourse to the Bid Protest Committee

Cevon’s Waste Management Inc. has since filed objections to the award of that contract with the Bid Protest Committee which includes representatives from the Finance Ministry, Attorney General’s Chambers and a body deemed to be representative of the contractors.

Public purchase of goods and services account for 27 percent of Guyana’s Gross Domestic Product.