Govt selects consultancy company for India-funded hospitals upgrade

The Government has already selected a consultancy company to oversee the multimillion-dollar upgrade of three primary healthcare facilities here, which is being funded by the Indian Government.
Public Health Minister Volda Lawrence told Guyana Times that having identified a consultancy firm from a shortlisted pool that was sent, they are now awaiting to hear from the Indian Government.
“We have already done all of that, the shortlisting, and sent it… So presently we are at the stage where we are awaiting the Indian Government’s response in terms of the consultant. It is in the domain of the High Commissioner now,” Minister Lawrence posited.
Last month, Indian High Commissioner Venkatachalam Mahalingam told reporters the company selected by the Guyana Government will undertake the Detail Project Report (DPR) as well as the Project Management Consultancy (PMC).
Back in July last year, Finance Minister Winston Jordan signed the US$17.5 million line of credit (LOC) with the Export/Import (EXIM) Bank of India to refurbish existing facilities and construct new buildings at the Suddie Public Hospital in Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam), the West Demerara Regional Hospital in Region Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara) and the Bartica District Hospital in Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni). The LOC will also be used to procure medical equipment to furnish the new and renovated facilities.
Since the Indian Government is funding the project, it is required that the contracts be awarded to companies from that country.
At the signing, Minister Lawrence had indicated that primary healthcare is the most important level of healthcare. Therefore, she added, it is incumbent on the Ministry to ensure that services including prevention, promotion, rehabilitation and palliative care are delivered.
The Government wanted to use funds set aside for the controversial Specialty Hospital project for the modernisation of the three primary healthcare institutions.
However, the Indian Government had committed to provide a separate loan to make-over the three hospitals in exchange for the Specialty Hospital project to continue. But the Specialty Hospital project was never pursued by the Government.
With an US$18 million LOC from the Indian Exim bank, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Administration was hoping to create a thriving health tourism industry locally with the construction of a Specialty Hospital.
However, the project quickly found itself in a series of controversy causing the then Government to end a contract with the India-based contractor Surendra Engineering in 2014, citing instances of alleged fraud and delays. The Donald Ramotar-led regime subsequently filed a lawsuit against the firm for failing to honour its obligations. Guyana is yet to recover close to $1 billion from that company.
While in Opposition, both the A Partnership for National Unity and the Alliance For Change had strongly opposed the Specialty Hospital project and upon its assumption to office in 2015, the coalition had decided to scrap the project, which had already expended some US$4.2 million on certain preliminary works.
However, after some convincing by the Indian Government, the coalition Administration hesitantly proceeded with the project, handing it over to another India-based contractor Fedders Lloyd to complete using the remaining US$13.8 million. But a few months later, that company was blacklisted by the World Bank until 2020, forcing the project to a standstill once again.