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Dr Jagdeo announces crackdown on gov’t agencies deviating from standard bidding process

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As part of its commitment to transparency and accountability in the procurement process, the government plans to take a strong disciplinary approach to agencies that depart from the Standard Bidding Document.

This warning comes on the heels of the $2.1 billion contract awarded to Kares Engineering Inc., for the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) Wharf, which has been a subject of contention in recent news.

General Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), Dr Bharrat Jagdeo

General Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), Dr Bharrat Jagdeo, has stressed that the contract was awarded to the lowest bidder in a public tender.

He said that the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB)’s decision was well within its right, and in accordance with the Standard Bidding Document.

“There is a standard bidding document that should be used by every single government entity that was established by us in the past. There are 19 criteria that you can use,” he told reporters during a media engagement at Freedom House on Thursday.

NPTAB on Thursday issued a press release clarifying the circumstances surrounding the award of the contract to Kares.

The Guyana Defence Force advertised for the construction of a Coast Guard reinforced concrete wharf at Ruimveldt and bids were received via public tendering in November 2023.

NPTAB noted that bids were evaluated by an independent evaluation committee and awarded to the lowest responsive bidder, which was Kares Engineering Inc.

However, in March 2024, Correia & Correia Ltd. Submitted a request for review citing “Any bidder whose bid is less than 80 percent of the engineers estimate will be non-responsive”.

Dr Jagdeo made it clear that this criterion was discontinued years ago and is not part of the 19 criteria set out in the approved Standard Bidding Document.

“If you allow this to go through, every single government agency can corruptly insert their own criterion for qualifying or disqualifying bidders, away from the standard bidding document, and then give the award to anyone,” he explained.

The GS further emphasised, “The procurement act says that anytime a ministry or department or anyone tries to change the standard bidding document, they have to seek the approval of the National Tender Board. NPTAB is within its full right to say ‘You departed from the standard bid document’.”

Section 23(3) of the Procurement Act mandates that each ministerial, departmental and agency tender board “shall prepare, using such standardised forms and criteria as have been prepared by the National Board, solicitation documents for tenders subject to its jurisdiction; and may, with the approval of the National Board, make such minor alterations or modifications to the forms and criteria as are deemed necessary on a case-by-case basis”.

Dr Jagdeo pointed out that the GDF, in imposing their criteria, did not take this crucial step.

“The GDF didn’t do this, so the tender board is right in this case to say ‘You inserted a criterion that is not part of the standard, and therefore should not be used in the evaluation’,” he added.

Kares Engineering was the lowest of the 8 bids

He further assured, “This is not corruption. The contract was awarded to the lowest bidder, in a public tender. What we have is a departure from what is the standardised form of bidding. We now have to take a strong disciplinary approach to these agencies that do procurement in the public domain that depart from the standardised process. The standardised process was created for a purpose.”

The GS lamented that this has not been an isolated incident, and explained that the government has been working to tackle this issue and tighten enforcement measures. 

As a result of this concerted effort, the government has been able to avoid corrupt practices marring the procurement process in many cases.

“We have managed to keep most of these contracts outside of corrupt practices because of the battle that we constantly wage. Every week we have to do this,” he said. The GS asserted that the government remains open to ensuring that the process becomes even more transparent, and is committed to weeding out corruption.

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