AT a recent PAC meeting, it was revealed that millions of dollars worth of contracts were not awarded to the lowest most responsive bidder and there are no minutes to explain why. After reading news reports on the matter, it became clear to me that something amiss occurred in Region 10 during 2016 while the APNU+AFC Coalition was in office.
This is in regard to the awarding of contracts. However, even though this was just one revelation, it begs the question about what more will be unearthed as the PAC continues examining the 2016 Auditor General’s Report. I ask that you permit me space in your publication to echo some of my concerns on this issue.
As mentioned, the PAC is currently looking at the 2016 report. In this report, it shows that in Region 10, 14 contracts totalling $38.5 million were awarded to neither the lowest nor most responsive bidders. Additionally, 17 contracts for the execution of drainage and irrigation works as well as road works were awarded.
These contracts were also not awarded to the lowest or most competitive bidders. With this in mind, I bring attention to the fact that just recently, we saw issues arising within the PAC where the opposition chairman of the committee, Mr. Jermaine Figueira, pushed aside a motion by Minister Gail Teixeira to another date even though the motion was in accordance with the Standing Orders. We also saw issues being raised out of the blue by the opposition members of the committee with no basis to support many of their claims.
I raise this question to everyone reading this; why is it that the opposition members of the PAC are creating so many issues recently? Is it because they are trying to distract the government from properly examining the 2016 Auditor-General Report? In my view, the APNU+AFC’s recent behaviour in the PAC could be an attempt to stymie its work to prevent revelations like the one with the awarding of contracts in Region 10.
Additionally, I think it is important to shed light on the fact that during the APNU+AFC’s time in office, they were involved in high levels of corruption. In fact, as soon as they left office last year, we saw revelations made regarding the use of taxpayers’ money to buy gifts, etc. This recent revelation that they disregarded the tender board process and requirements when awarding contracts back in 2016 is just another one of their corrupt practices coming to light. It is public knowledge that there ought to be records to support decisions made when awarding contracts. Why didn’t the APNU+AFC ensure that proper records were kept like the minutes which would have given reasons as to why specific contracts were awarded to specific people despite them not having the lowest prices or being the most responsive bidder?
For all those wondering, I think the answer is very clear. The APNU+AFC Coalition was only concerned about filling their pockets and giving benefits to their cronies. One way in which they did so is by disregarding the tender process. Now that more of their corruption is being highlighted, we are seeing efforts being made to stall the PAC meetings and even create issues when there ought not to be any.