PAC Report 2016: Over $600M in contracts awarded by APNU/AFC without being advertised

– only 4 contractors invited to bid

The report of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on the public accounts of Guyana for the year 2016 has been laid in the National Assembly and with it, a summation of the Public Accounts Committee’s (PAC) questioning of specific findings in the 2017 Auditor General Report.
Among the findings in the 2017 report, was that a total of 153 contracts were distributed despite not being publicly tendered. The contracts, which were for both current and capital works, were worth some $604.8 million.
At the time this matter came up before the PAC, the accounting officer was questioned as to why a statement containing the grounds on which restrictive tendering was used, had not been presented to the Auditor General’s team in accordance with the Procurement Act. Failure to present such a statement is a breach of the Procurement Act.
“Ms Stephen was unable to respond but indicated that corrective actions would be taken in the future. At that point, the member questioned why NPTAB allowed Ministries and agencies to prequalify, given that the Auditor General had indicated that there should be an opened tender.”
“The Finance Secretary proffered that when submitting the prequalification documents, it should identify the list of contractors used and whether the contracts were for major or minor works. NPTAB should also be informed of the type of work to be done on the prequalification list,” the report said.
It was also explained in the report that only four prequalified contractors were invited to bid for these contracts. These contractors were then assigned the contracts by the Regional Tender Board. However, the Procurement Act is specific on what situations qualify for restricted and prequalified tenders.
“The goods, construction or services by reason of their highly complex of specialised nature, are available only from a limited number of suppliers or contractors, in which case all such suppliers or contractors shall be invited to submit tenders,” Section 26, subsection (1, a) states.
Meanwhile, the audit found eight instances where the contract sums were the same as the engineer’s estimate. The eight contracts were awarded by the Regional Tender Board, of which four were awarded at one time to one contractor.
“Thereafter, a member enquired what system had been implemented to avoid a reoccurrence and whether the engineer was involved in any decision making at the RDC. The accounting officer informed the committee, that the region had an engineer and a superintendent of works,” the report explained.
“The engineer was no longer employed with the region. Engineers were required to prepare the bill of quantities and did not participate in the procurement process. Questioned about the name of the company that received the eight contracts based on the engineer’s estimate, the accounting officer stated that the contracting firm was Associated Construction Services.”
At the time, enquiries were made as to whether the company was still tendering for contracts in the region, to which the accounting officer said that they were. It was also explained in the report that the Auditor General conducted a separate special audit on the issue, with a separate report to be issued.