Home Letters Highly suspicious, irregular procurement activity
The Small Business Bureau (SBB), which falls under the Business Ministry, seems to be the new channel to facilitate the creaming off of taxpayers’ monies into the hands and pockets of a select few.
Recent documented information, available to me, indicated that on June 8, 2018, the CEO, Dr Lowell Porter, of the Small Business Bureau indicated that the previously advertised expression of interest (EOI) for training services was aborted.
An email from Dr Porter to 14 companies that submitted proposals reads as follows:
Please be advised that the captioned project with deadline June 8, 2018 has been aborted. We therefore ask that you do not submit a proposal at this time.
You will be advised of the SBB email address to send training proposals at a later date, should we send out another EOI.
We apologise for any inconvenience this might have caused and use this opportunity to thank you for your time, efforts and interest in working with the SBB.
We wish you continued success in all your business endeavours.”
Editor, on December 11, 2018, Dr Porter wrote to the Chairman of the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB), Berkley Wickham, for approval to contract and pay Management Options Inc, Empretec and Cerulean for the supply of training services in the sum of GY$2,400,000.
By letter dated December 21, 2018, the Chairman of NPTAB gave Dr Porter approval for the contract of training of participants in Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica). The companies who were awarded the contract are: Management Options Inc, Empretec and Cerulean at a sum of $750,000, $750,000 and $900,000, respectively.
Editor, of note is the fact that initially a total of 14 companies submitted proposals for this contract.
This highly suspicious and irregular procurement activity is further compounded by a document from the Training and Development Officer to the Permanent Secretary of the Business Ministry, through Dr Porter on November 28, 2018, requesting the sum $7,575,000 for payment to Management Options Inc, the sum of $3,000,000 for payment to Empretec and the sum of $1,800,000 for payment to Cerulean for training services to be conducted in December 2018.
Editor, they are a number of issues that the SBB must address. These are:
1. Provide proof, publicly, that after annulling the EOI based on the email adumbrated above, that the 14 companies were all approached to resubmit proposals for this contract;
2. Provide publicly, the evaluation report for the three contracts;
3. How is it that a request for payment was made even before the contracts were awarded by NPTAB?
4. Since we have also seen invoices for payment, which shows that training took place on December 29 and 31, 2018, can the Small Business Bureau provide evidence that these training sessions were actually conducted?
Editor, I highly doubt that these training sessions were even conducted on the days mentioned, since we are all aware that business owners are most busy during the end of year season. I doubt any small business owner closed their shops or businesses and attended training.
Notably, the award of the contracts were for training in Region Four; however, the companies submitted invoices for training, which were conducted in Regions Five (Mahaica-Berbice) and Six (East Berbice-Corentyne).
I have since learnt that one of the key technical personnel of this agency has been relieved of their duties. What is going on here?
Bishop Juan A Edghill
PPP/C Member of Parliament