Harmon wants answers on $614M contract awarded to Mohammed’s Enterprise

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The A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) has turned to the National Assembly for answers on the recent award of a $614M contract to Mohammed’s Enterprise for the construction of a state-of-the-art building to house the Guyana Fire Service headquarters at Durban Park, Homestretch Avenue.

At his most recent press conference on Friday, Leader of the Opposition, Joseph Harmon disclosed that a total of seven questions have been submitted to the National Assembly for response by the Minister of Home Affairs, Robeson Benn.

Amid the public’s concern over the company’s ability to execute such a mega project, the Opposition wants the Home Affairs Minister to detail whether there was a public bidding process ahead of the award of the contract, whether the awardee was prequalified, the grounds on which the bidders were prequalified, and the criteria used in the prequalification and qualification process. Further, the Coalition wants the Home Affairs Minister to indicate to the House whether the contract was awarded to the lowest bidder, and if not, why.

Just recently, concerns were also raised over the decision to award a $346M contract to ‘Statement Construction’ for the construction of a primary school at Bamia, Region 10.

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Registered approximately six months ago – the construction firm is owned by the proprietors of Hits and Jams Entertainment and the Kashif and Shanghai Football Organisation – known associates of the PPP/C Government.

The Opposition Leader said, in the absence of a Public Procurement Commission (PPC), the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government has been awarding contracts its close associates, including friends and family.

“At this juncture, our major concern is the process that is being used to determine who is awarded contracts,” Harmon told reporters while challenging companies that are transparent and accountable to petition the Government to reconstitute the PPC.

He said in the absence of the PPC, Guyanese do not have the full assurance that contracts awarded, since August 2020, are issued in a fair and transparent manner.

“The contracts that are currently being inked are marred by corruption, which can result in action being taken against those companies who facilitate underhand deals. We are again putting all on notice from now that as soon as the Public Procurement Commission is reconstituted, the first order of business will be to review all those contracts that were given out since August 2020 as we will not allow these corrupted practices to go unchecked,” the Opposition Leader warned.

October 2021 marked one year since the Public Procurement Commission expired, and plans to reconstitute it appear to be moving at snail’s pace, though under Article 212 W of the Constitution it is responsible for the monitoring of public procurement with the aim of ensuring that the procurement of goods, services and the execution of works are conducted in a fair, equitable, transparent, competitive and cost effective manner.

This past week, a sub-committee of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) was expected to meet to shortlist nominees for the Public Procurement Commission (PPC) after a four-month hiatus, however, as of 11:30hrs on Saturday, the sub-committee, according to Chairman of the PAC, Jermaine Figueira, MP hat not met.

On the sideline of the PAC meeting on Tuesday, Figueira had laid the blame at the feet of the Government’s Chief Whip, Gail Teixeira, MP, who along with him, makes up the sub-committee.

On Saturday, he said they were expected to hold a virtual meeting, however, he was awaiting MP Teixeira to set the time.

Approximately 23 nominees were submitted to the PAC for consideration.

In the absence of the PPC, MP Figueira said the Opposition has been inundated with complaints from contractors, who believe that they are being treated unfairly during the procurement process.

“Multibillion-dollar contracts have been given out by Cabinet and the role of the Public Procurement Commission is pivotal with respect to contracts being distributed. Aggrieved contractors would go to the Commission and make their concerns known; so the perception is that corruption is afoot with regards to a lot of these multibillion-dollar contracts that government has been awarding,” he said while underscoring the importance of having the PPC reconstituted.

In the absence of the ‘procurement watchdog,’ Cabinet also granted its no-objection for the Ministry of Public Works to enter into a US$256.6M agreement with China State Construction Engineering Corporation Ltd for the construction of the New Demerara Harbour Bridge (NDHB). It has also given the greenlight for China Railway Group Limited to execute the controversial Amaila Falls Hydropower Project (AFHP) based on a Build-Own-Operate-Transfer (BOOT) model.



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