Last Updated on Wednesday, 9 February 2022, 23:30 by Denis Chabrol
United Kingdom (UK) High Commissioner to Guyana, Jane Miller on Wednesday said Guyana’s procurement system needed to be strengthened, amid observations that the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB) is made up largely of political appointees.
“Something I have discussed with the Finance Minister and I know it’s an area of capability that they are still growing in this country,” she said. Ms. Miller noted that the tender for the partly-funded US$190 million project to construct the Linden to Mabura Road underwent rigid and impressive scrutiny. “It’s something that we’ll keep our eye on. I think it’s an important issue that you raise and it will be something I will keep raising with government but it’s an area that skills do need to be developed,”
Noting that Guyana was growing “incredibly fast” and its resources are “gigantic”, she acknowledged the need for transparency. “It’s an area that capability does need strengthening but there is some capability and I definitely know it’s on the mind of the government at the moment,” the British diplomat said.
The NPTAB consists of People’s Progressive Party (PPP) candidate Gloria Beharry, PPP politician Steve Ninvalle, PPP supporter Desmond Mohammed, as well as Mark Conway. In the Official Gazette, Ninvalle, Beharry and Conway are listed as “non-government” members while Mohammed, Lord, Omar Narine and NPTAB Chairman Tarachand Balgobin are described as “government” representatives.
Asked whether she thought that UK businesses would get a fair chance at NPTAB due to the fact that its stacked with pro-government representatives regardless of which party is in power, she said “it’s something we have to keep an eye on.” Ms. Miller is banking on the quality, efficiency, effectiveness and longevity of products and services being offered by UK companies would be in their favour. “I would hope that the quality that the UK provides, that we’re competitive, that we will have a fair chance; again it’s something I will constantly keep an eye on,” she said.
President of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Timothy Tucker reminded that the Public Procurement Commission could investigate complaints if bidders believed that they were evaluated incorrectly. “We have seen it being used many times before in the past and there have even been companies that have written the GCCI and the GCCI has written the Finance Minister or the Tender Board to say we would like this reviewed so there are many mechanisms in place if you think that the award of a contract has not been done fairly,” he said.
Mr. Tucker said he was not aware of the composition of the NPTAB to conclude that they were politically appointed, but he said the Board evaluates bids based on the criteria that are at the back of any tender document, After those are ticked off, he explained that the bids are sent to a technical board.
On whether the UK trade mission would be just another of its kind without solid business deals, the High Commissioner said , “it’s much more than warm words. This will turn into businesses.” The United Kingdom envoy praised the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce for an “amazing job” finding potential partnerships during this familiarisation visit.