Corruption eating away at development in Region 6

first_imgDear Editor,The Public Infrastructure Minister took umbrage at my letter to the press with regards to corruption in procurement which is eating away at development in Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne). I do feel that his main contention was with the following paragraph:‘What is also eating away the quality of work done is the deliberate under-bidding for contracts. Some contractors through inside information know exactly how low they should bid. In doing so they effectively erode their profit margins and when this is compounded with the inevitable ‘kickback’ the result is substandard work which again will be subjected to bribery to ensure it passes certification. The Public Infrastructure [Ministry] is turning a blind eye to this since cronies and families are allegedly involved.’The subject Minister on the Facebook page was quick to point out that the example I gave was related to contracts awarded by the RDC and NDIA but unfortunately what he failed to see and acknowledge was the fact that a general observation was made in that paragraph in relation to procurement as a whole and the fact that cronies and families were awarded contracts by the Public Infrastructure Ministry. This corrupt practice is compounded by the fact that bidding information is allegedly sold to contractors, thereby corrupting the bidding process. If he had paid attention to the sequence of the contents of my letter he would have seen this fact. I don’t really blame him since some people only see what they want to see!The Minister went on to say that the Editor should have made ‘a footnote that his accusations were completely misplaced thus false’. How could the Editor draw such a conclusion? I reassured the Minister on the chat Group ‘Moving Guyana Forward’ that since he felt that my ‘accusations were misplaced’ I will provide him with some evidence that the accusations are not false.At Palmyra (cannot help recalling the Indian Arrival Monument), the Percy Smith Street was constructed by the MOPI and it crumbled the next day after it was completed. It was reported that the reason why this happened was because the foundation did not get any sand fill and crusher run.Then there is the problem of substandard materials being used. The current painting of lines on the Corentyne Highway is supposed to be done with thermoplastic road marking paint but it is being done with cheap substandard yellow paint from China. The contractor and some Government officials are laughing all the way to the bank. It can be seen that this paint is actually being erased off at a rapid rate and it contributes no night time reflectivity since the paint does not contain any reflective glass beads. It is evident that millions of dollars will go down the drains.Then there is the case of buying materials, spares and capital items at sky-high prices. Let me direct the focus of the Minister, to the exorbitant purchase price of spares for the asphalt plant located at Garden of Eden on the East Bank of Demerara. It is reported that these spares are purchased at prices which are over 500 per cent the normal price. If these items are VAT free and cost that much then what conclusion can we draw? Furthermore, the Minister should question the profit margin of this entity since from all indications, it seems to be making a loss! Is this entity subject to an audit?There is also an instance where a contract is awarded for a particular work to be done but another work was substituted which makes more profit for the contractor. A case to point is the construction of a new road from the water treatment plant to the pumping station at Rose Hall. It is reported that this road was never constructed but an already existing road at JC Chandisingh School Street was resurfaced with asphalt. This road needed only some minor repairs. This was done in 2016 and cost approximately $20 million. Can you imagine the huge profits made by the contractor on this deal?I humbly would request the Minister to pay heed to what his Government said in 2016, that ‘the reestablishment of public trust has been a key commitment of the current Administration. Fundamental to that public trust is a transparent process for allocation of resources and spending from the public purse. This forms the basis of good governance and the first step in tackling corruption. In public procurement, transparency is about awarding contracts to qualified contractors, suppliers and service providers but after this the certification of works done according to the bills of quantities is equally important. This is where his Ministry comes in to play and this is not the time to defend the corruptors!Yours sincerely,Haseef YusufRDC CouncillorRegion Sixlast_img

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