Ramjattan’s involvement heavily criticised "Conflict of Interest?"

Ramjattan’s involvement heavily criticised

Controversial Specialty Hospital project

 

– TIGI President presses for MoU scrapping

 

 

BY EDWARD LAYNE

 

As public outcry continues to mount over the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Administration’s decision to handpick disqualified contracting company Fedders Lloyd to construct the controversial Specialty Hospital, President of Transparency International Guyana Inc (TIGI), Father Compton Meerabux on Saturday called for the scrapping of the MoU and a retendering.

TIGI President, Father Compton Meerabux

TIGI President, Father Compton Meerabux

An artist’s impression of the Specialty Hospital

An artist’s impression of the Specialty Hospital03

Father Meerabux told Guyana Times on Saturday there are too many questions surrounding the MoU and therefore there should be a fresh tendering process.
“The fact the Fedders Lloyd deal is worth more than US$14 million, it demands the highest ethical standards compliance… and what we recommended that there should be a retendering of the whole process because there are too many issues involve in the process,” the TIGI President said.

Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan

Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan

He noted that the fact that Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan had advocated on behalf of Fedders Lloyd after it was disqualified, is enough reason for there to be questions about whether or not the Minister used his influence in Government to ensure that the company was engaged in completion of the project.
“There is a conflict of interest with Mr Khemraj Ramjattan and that rivals transparency and there should be a retendering of the whole process,” Father Meerabux said.
Recently, Father Meerabux’s deputy Christopher Ram called on the Government to revisit the entire transaction.
“In view of the public disquiet on this matter, the Government should revisit the entire transaction, including the retendering,” he said, adding that the Government should satisfy itself that the award of the contract for the project was in conformity with the Public Procurement Act.
There have been widespread condemnations of the Government’s decision to select Fedders Lloyd to complete the project, since the company was disqualified and more so, was associated with, Minister Ramjattan.
Economist and transparency advocate Ramon Gaskin had said that Government should have moved to retender in the first place, pointing out that even before this report was made public, there was already a shadow of corruption hanging over the selection of Fedders Lloyd, since the company’s Attorney, Khemraj Ramjattan, was now a Government Minister.
“Scrap the whole thing and retender… (Because) they (the Government) lied to the public,” Gaskin declared.
Former Government Minister, Dr Henry Jeffrey, in an invited comment, said the release of the Tender Evaluation Report was not necessary for the retendering of the project, since by law, Government was bound to retender. These revelations made it even more compelling for a new tendering exercise to be embarked upon, he said.
Dr Jeffrey maintained his initial position that as a matter of law, the project should have been put to tender.
“They are supposed to open this matter for tendering process and they are supposed to allow other people an opportunity… Ramjattan is a senior member of the Cabinet and he is in a position of kind of a conflict of interest and, therefore, they (Government) have to be even more transparent than the [People’s Progressive Party/Civic] PPP/C,” he had told Guyana Times.
Other stakeholders have also called for Government to abandon the current arrangement and retender, since there is now evidence in the public domain which proved that Fedders Lloyd was indeed disqualified after it failed to meet a number of criteria during the tending process in 2012.
The Specialty Hospital, a project initiated by the then PPP/C Administration, is aimed at catering for complicated surgeries, ranging from heart operations and organ transplants to cosmetic surgeries.
In 2012, a US$18 million contract was awarded to India-based company Surendra Engineering, which was tasked with designing and building the controversial facility. The funding was provided by the Indian Government through a Line of Credit.
In January, the contractor’s services were terminated owing to several contractual breaches. The matter was taken to the High Court and compensation was accordingly awarded to the Government.

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He noted that the fact that Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan had advocated on behalf of Fedders Lloyd after it was disqualified, is enough reason for there to be questions about whether or not the Minister used his influence in Government to ensure that the company was engaged in completion of the project.
“There is a conflict of interest with Mr Khemraj Ramjattan and that rivals transparency and there should be a retendering of the whole process,” Father Meerabux said.
Recently, Father Meerabux’s deputy Christopher Ram called on the Government to revisit the entire transaction.

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