Guyana favours Chinese loan conditionalities; assures bidding process is “open”

Last Updated on Tuesday, 2 November 2021, 14:20 by Denis Chabrol

Mr. Bharrat Jagdeo.

Amid lingering concerns by the United States (US) about the transparency and quality of Chinese-funded infrastructural projects, Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo has said Chinese loans are softer and that Guyana’s procurement process is “open”.

“We made it clear to everyone. No financing from anybody comes with political strings but Chinese financing has been readily available to the world and we believe, like the rest of the region, we have to explore friends and partners from every part of the world,” he told a news conference on Monday. Mr. Jagdeo cited efforts to obtain 103 million Euros from Austria for the construction of a children and maternal hospital but Guyana would have had to deduct 13 million Euros immediately as an “upfront fee” and repay that along with the requirement to use one of their pre-approved contractors.  He said India and the United States stipulate that contractors from those countries be used.

His comments were made on Monday, the same day that government announced that China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC) has been approved to build the new Demerara Harbour Bridge at a cost of US$256, 638,289 and that China Railway Group Limited has been selected to open negotiations for the design-build-finance of the 165 megawatt hydropower plant at Amaila Falls.

Vice President Jagdeo said Guyana would explore “every source of financing” and make decisions based on the best offers based on an “open” process by America, British, Chinese and other companies. “We have to build the bridge, we have to build the hydro and we went through an open process. That is what we committed to. We committed to open processes,” he said.

The seven-member National Procurement and Tender Administration Board includes two candidates of the governing People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC), Gloria Beharry and Steve Ninvalle. Mr. Desmond Mohammed had previously served in the top management of the then Guyana Broadcasting Corporation.

Chief Executive Officer of the United States International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), Adam Boehler had said, during a visit to Guyana in October, 2020, that the American government was keen on winning competitive bids, and delivering quality infrastructure built by local labour. “Our focus on high quality projects and local labour to drive those.”

A number of Chinese projects such as the Skeldon Sugar Factory, Arthur Chung Conference Centre and the Marriott-branded state-owned hotel has had some defects. “I know there have been some disappointments here. I will tell you that may not always be the quickest but I will commit to be the best with a focus on high quality infrastructure but, no! that we are supportive of whoever comes out as long as the bid is competitive, open, transparent and there is a focus on high quality, long term investment in Guyana,” he had said.

The DFC has US$60 billion to invest in globally.