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The Ministry of Agriculture is beset with ongoing, unresolved contract issues going back for months. Contractors are complaining they are not getting contracts because they are reluctant to pay a hefty ‘contract tax’. The result is contract work at NDIA has become stagnant. Nothing productive seems to be happening in the Ministry. President Irfaan and Vice President Jagdeo have not taken measures to resolve the problems at the Ministry. Contractors are up in arms. The situation is boiling ready to explode.
The Ministry summoned to the office contractors who bid for contracts. Virtually no contractor showed up for the one-on-one meeting. They complained that the contract tax is too high. As a result of their unwillingness to pay to play, the Ministry has canceled all tender bids and announced re-tendering of work in billions of dollars of projects.
Contractors complain that they have to re-tender in order and there is no guarantee projects can be approved. Contractors are forced into unnecessary expenses in preparing tendering packages. They fear nothing will change in the re-tenders. They believe there will be a repeat of what already took place .
In the meanwhile, emergency work is being done and paid for on a forced account basis. All excavation work is being done on mini contracts with mini operators on a forced account. Traditional contractors are by-passed. The system is now processing many contracts instead of a few. The staff is overloaded with paper work and can’t cope. Monitoring and supervision process has fallen considerably. The staff complains that it has become very difficult to monitor so many contracts; they can’t keep track. The process has become very cumbersome.
A PPP activist and watchman has been put back to perform work at the conservancy without tendering. It is riddled with corruption. He is paid several millions per month for no kind of horse type labor. Virtually nothing is being done. The conservancy was maintained in house without additional cost by ministry staff over the last several years without any breach or problems.
The set back over the last several months for the works program in the Agriculture Ministry needs to be immediately addressed. It cannot be business as usual. The government leadership, President and Vice President must act now to address ongoing contract issues and allegations of corruption.