Contractor received $45M for incomplete Port Kaituma Doctors’ Quarters
-Auditor General finds overpayments for unfinished health buildings in Region One
By Staff Writer
Contractors hired to construct buildings for the Ministry of Public Health in Region One as far back as 2016 failed to complete the projects despite being advanced more than 50% of the contract sums, according to the 2017 Auditor General’s report, which urged that efforts be made to recover all the money overpaid.
In the report’s review of the ministry’s capital expenditure, which was presented to the National Assembly on Thursday, it was noted that the Doctors’ Quarters at the Port Kaituma Hospital Complex were not only incomplete but the works done were valued at far less than the money paid over to the contractor.
“The contractor received payments totalling $45M or 72% of the contract sum as at 31 December, 2016. Physical verification of the works on 30 August 2017 revealed that actual works measured only $14.768M or 24% of the contract sum,” the report said. The total cost of the contract is said to be $58.341M; the engineer’s estimate was $62.291M…..
As it relates to advance payments to contractors and the non-commencement of works, the Auditor General’s Office has discovered that one contractor received an advance payment of $39M in 2017 from Region Number 10. In his latest report, Auditor General, Deodat Sharma, said that the contract for the construction of a Regional Administration Building was awarded by the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB) to the lowest responsive bidder in the sum of $265.6M against an engineer’s estimate of $249.3M. Sharma said that the contract was signed on December 29, 2017 and the works were expected to be completed two years after the commencement date. The AG said that as at December 31, 2017, an advance payment in the sum of $39M was made to the contractor. Sharma said that a site inspection revealed several worrying things. Among these, he said, is the fact that the site was abandoned, that no equipment or personnel were present; and a quantity of white sand was stockpiled with two material storage sheds. Sharma said that the full advance payment of $39M was prepared and processed in the name of the contractor but at the time of payment, no bond was lodged by the contractor. It was only last February that one was produced. The Auditor General said that this is a breach of procurement laws. At the time of the audit in July 2018, the Auditor General noted, too, that the RDC was now requesting permission to go to tender for supervisory consultancy services for the supervision of the works for the contract which was awarded since December 29, 2017. The AG was alarmed that the contractor was already in possession of the advance money when no supervisor was in place. The Government in response to this finding by the AG said that the matter is currently engaging the attention of the Ministries of Communities and Finance with the view to engaging a Supervising Consultant. Sharma said that the same contractor received $73.1M advance payment from the Ministry of Public Health in 2017 and at the time of reporting, no significant works had commenced on site
Auditor General red flags contractor awarded 18 ‘selectively tendered’ contracts
18 contracts that were selectively tendered to one contractor in Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice) has been flagged to by the Auditor General for not being put through a competitive bidding process.
For 2017, $459.6 million was allocated for repairs and maintenance of buildings and infrastructure in the region. The favoured contractor received 18 contracts worth some $59.1 million, which fell under a $90 million allocation for the drainage and irrigation component of the regional budget.
The Auditor General made it clear that tenders for these 18 projects were not advertised publicly. Instead, the Regional Tender Board (RTB) claimed the contractor was procured through selective tendering.
“The reason given in the RTB minutes for using this method of procurement in 10 cases was that the works were emergencies. No reason was given for using this method of procurement for the other eight contracts.”
“Further, eight of the 10 contracts awarded by the RTB on September 7, 2017 and recorded on RTB minutes were valued at $21.5 million, but these contracts had no commencement and completion dates stated as a means of ensuring that works are completed within a stipulated time.”
In response to this, the head of the budget agency noted that the cases were all “emergencies” and went on to explain that it was an oversight for the minutes to not include information on the commencement and completion dates. The head of the agency did promise that the omission would be corrected.
The Audit Office however recommended that the regional administration ensure all contracts are awarded in accordance with the Procurement Act. In addition, it urged the region to ensure that all contracts are complete with commencement and completion dates to ensure proper monitoring and enforcing of penalties.
Anti-corruption voices have repeatedly criticised the Government for sole sourcing contracts, under the guise of emergency works. In fact, the fallout from one sole sourced contract for a drug bond is believed to be behind aspects of a Cabinet reshuffle early last year.
In May of last year, the parliamentary Opposition had fielded questions in the National Assembly to the Ministers of Public Health and Communities in relation to the public procurement practices being used by the Government.
When a response came from Communities Minister Ronald Bulkan, it was revealed that nine out of 10 regions in Guyana did no public tendering for drugs and medical supplies between January 2016 and February 2017.
In addition, all regions indicated that no prequalification process was followed. Procurement of drugs and medical supplies had all been done in the name of emergencies. A key Inter-American Development report (IDB) had recommended that countries in the Region, including Guyana, implement a number of measures aimed at improving public procurement.
The report titled, ‘Better spending for better lives: How Latin America and the Caribbean can do more with less’, has identified poor procurement practices as a contributor to wasted public funds.
Among its recommendations for countries in the region were for Governments to avoid single sourced contracts and concentrate on competitive bidding. In fact, it was advised that open tendering be the default method of procurement.
Contractor fails to deliver $100M in critical equipment to GPHC – AG report
…as Public Health Ministry yet to recover $5.1M in overpayments to staffers
The 2017 Auditor General report has found that despite a contract to deliver a canter truck and several pieces of critical equipment to the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC), the entity is still awaiting these items.
According to the report, the National Procurement and Tender Administrative Board (NPTAB) gave approval for the three contracts to procure a truck, as well as medical and non-medical items that included equipment for thoracic, ENT and neurosurgery equipment. The contract was worth close to $100 million. But at the time of reporting, the $10 million truck and lift, as well as other equipment worth $22 million were yet to be delivered. This includes a patient view station worth $9.3 million, a $9.1 million 1000 KVA transformer, a 7.5 ton ducted package air condition unit worth $2 million and digital baby scales. “The head of the budget agency agreed with the comments made above and indicated that the GPHC granted several multiyear approvals to effectively fulfil the contractual obligations and is in contact with the suppliers to deliver the vehicle and equipment as soon as possible,” the Ministry said in response. In his recommendations, Auditor General Deodat Sharma urged the head of the Budget agency to take action in order to have the items delivered to GPHC… as per the contract stipulations.
Overpayments Meanwhile, State auditors also discovered the Public Health Ministry not only overpaid several staffers, but has dropped the ball when it comes to recovering the sums which totalled $438,720 for 2017. The report notes that for the period under review, pay change directives for resignations and maternity leave were forwarded late to the Ministry’s Accounts Department. The money, which was paid to six staffers, has not been recovered. In addition, the situation is compounded by unrecovered sums from previous years. According to the AG, the previous out-dated payments total $5.1 million and peaked in 2016, with some $1.7 million in overpayments not being recovered that year. When Auditor General Deodat Sharma gave the Ministry a chance to responding to these findings, the Head of the budget agency noted that several employees were “written to with respect to overpayments.” Despite the Ministry reaching out to these staffers, however, there has been no progress in getting back this money. As a consequence, the Ministry related that measures are in place to publish the names of these employees via print and TV in order to get the refunds. In addition, the Ministry informed the AG that advice is being sought from Attorney General Basil Williams on the way forward. The Audit Office recommended that systems be put in place to prevent reoccurrences and recover outstanding monies.
These people are both incompetent and SHAMELESS BUT the FILTH HEADS they have supporting them see no wrong as long as their Massa get rich, whit both of their cheeks and they get lil stale bread and dry coconut. Everybody is happy so business as usual. Is like Bunham still alive.
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