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The A Partnership of National Unity and Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) is calling the Government out on the awards. Referring to a ecently-published figures on the distribution of government contract awards across ethnic groups in Guyana, the coalition siad while surprising no one their provide immense value and give credence to the claim of discrimination in the awarding of contracts.
Attorney-at-law Nigel Hughes, in a recent presentation titled ‘Economy and Justice in Guyana’ made to the International Decade for People of African Descent Assembly- Guyana (IDPADA-G) data was presented that shows African Guyanese disproportionately awarded contracts compared to Indians Guyanese
A similar study was conducted by the United States-based Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy (CGID) with the same results.
According to coaliton, the evidence is confirmation this aspect of ethnic discrimination and inequalities in the society.
The Opposition said there is a need to address the gross imbalance in the award of government contracts both in terms of the amount of persons getting contracts and the money value of those contracts. Pointing out Government’s attempts to give small contracts in the light of criticisms said they are not sufficient to address the inequities in the earnings from those contracts.
Calling for national involvement to end discrimination the Opposition stated:-
- The award of government contracts (or public procurement) was a ‘Herdmanston issue.” – meaning that in the aftermath of the 1997 election and public protest, the award of government contracts (with the attendant discrimination and exclusion) was explicitly identified by all stakeholders as a matter of central importance for race relations, social justice, and equal opportunity in Guyana. The 1999 Constitution Reform Commission (CRC) agreed, therefore, to establish the Public Procurement Commission (PPC) as a body with constitutional powers to address this national problem.
- During the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) previous term in office the government thwarted both the establishment and the functioning of PPC.
- It was under the Coalition government in 2016 that the PPC was re-established after an absence of a decade under the PPP. With the existence of the PPC, the PPP is awarding contracts in an arbitrary way and in violation of the Public Procurement Act.
- The imbalance in the award of government contracts today is therefore the outcome of previous decades of discrimination and victimisation.
- Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo’s recent nonsensical defense of the glaring inequalities in awards has fooled no one.
- Excluded groups cannot participate or successfully compete in public procurement because PPP never allowed them fair and equal opportunity to develop any track record or financial and technical capability. In stating these facts, we do not cast blame on the many successful contractors who simply played by the rules that the Freedom House designed for its own political gains.
- Guyanese need to seriously resolve these unjust and unconstitutional disparities in contract awards. The Public Procurement Commission must join us to work towards building a public procurement system that, while remaining competitive, can at the same time include special measures to correct previous discrimination and injustices by opening the door for wider participation from under-represented groups thus distributing the economic wealth of the country in a way that promotes social and economic justice.