Georgetown, Guyana – (September 23, 2015) The Government of Guyana has begun putting measures in place to deal with contractors who are not meeting deadlines and whose costs exceed their initial bids.
This stern message was communicated to the media by Minister of State, Joseph Harmon at today’s post Cabinet press briefing. Minister Harmon said that the “government wants to see value for money” and as such, will not tolerate a “lackadaisical” attitude from contractors in the completion of work for contracts, which are awarded by the Government.
This was the position taken, he said, after it was pointed out at Cabinet on Tuesday that many contractors underbid and when they are awarded the contract, applications are made for a series of extensions, which subsequently results in higher sums being spent on the project.
“Cabinet had some very firm words to say to the manner in which the contracts were executed under the previous administration and the fact that contract sums were being extended beyond the sum that was actually catered for in the award for the contract. It would appear to Cabinet that some of the contracts coming in were being deliberately underestimated, knowing fully well that they will come later on for variations,” he said.
He noted that in such a case, genuine contractors who are capable of getting the work done in a timely manner are often overlooked since their initial bids are often higher.
Using the example of the Kato Primary School in Region 8, Minister Harmon pointed out that the contract was awarded under the previous government for the school to be constructed at the sum of $500 million. To this date however, the school remains incomplete, at a cost totaling almost $1 billion.
“In addition to that, the company that is supervising, has now come back to ask for an extension that would require another $4.2 million. Cabinet has mandated the Minister of Education, Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine to call in the contracting service and let them know that the Government will not be tolerating any further extensions to the project. It is a travesty the way contracting matters are being dealt with,” the Minister of State lamented.
No wastage of Taxpayers’ monies
He noted that the Kato Primary School contract is the microcosm of what has been happening and it is time that the wastage of taxpayers’ money is brought to an end. To this end, Cabinet has asked that a Task Force be set up to manage all contracts and the manner in which they are carried out.
“The Ministers of Finance, Public Infrastructure and Business have been tasked with preparing new guidelines for contractors that would let contractors know what is required of them when a Government contracted is awarded, and the consequences and penalties that would result if they fail to deliver as promised,” he told media operatives.
Minister Harmon also disclosed that the Government, under the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, will put in place a special team, which will be delegated to examine all contracts awarded and the work which is completed to ensure that the quality is in keeping with that which is expected.
“We are going to scrutinise all existing contractors for default and shoddy work. The ministry of Public Infrastructure has also undertaken to provide an Inspectorate Division that will inspect all Government funded projects even beyond the inspection of engineering consultants. We need to see that the money is being spent on value,” Minister Harmon expressed.
In the meantime, Minister of Governance, Raphael Trotman, who was also present at the post Cabinet press briefing, when questioned on whether the Government will be making public the concessions granted to foreign companies as per the laws of Guyana, said that the new administration has nothing to hide and in the spirit of good governance and transparency, this will be done in due time.
“We are bringing a fresh approach to everything but everything takes time. The Auditor General is quite aware that things have change and we have no difficulty with transparency. We are open to this. We are now seeing what concessions were given, assessing and in due course it will be made available as per law,” Minister Trotman said.
Value Added Production
Meanwhile, Minister Trotman said that foreign companies in the forestry sector such as Bai Shan Lin and its Indian counterpart, Vaitarna Holdings Private Incorporated, have been spoken to by the government, to begin its value added production or face sanctions.
“We are not against foreign investments. We just want the foreign companies operating here, to respect and adhere to our laws and the agreements,” he said.
He told media operatives that so far, the companies have begun showing positive signs and he will present a report on the progress by the end of October.

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