Inspectorate division to oversee all government contracts

Georgetown, GINA, September 23, 2015

Plans are on stream for a complete review of the guidelines for the award of Government contracts.

This is as a result of the numerous challenges the government has encountered as it looks into contracts awarded by the previous Administration. It was also decided that an inspectorate division will also be established to overlook ongoing projects.

This was disclosed today by Minister of State, Joseph Harmon at the post-Cabinet media briefing.

“Cabinet had an extensive discussion on this matter and we felt that we needed to intervene in what was happening in the wider award of contracts and the qualification requirement for contracts,” Harmon said.

It is against this background that Cabinet has asked Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson, Minister of Business and Investment, Dominic Gaskin and Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan to prepare new guidelines for contractors. This would include what is required of contractors for the award of a government contract. The penalties for breach of contracts will also be reviewed.

According to Harmon, having the Kato Primary School incident being brought to the fore, there is now a greater need to scrutinize carefully all of the existing contracts for areas of default and improper works etc.

“When we looked at the award of the contract for an extension of a consultancy service for the Kato Primary School, this is a primary school that started with about $500 million and it is now a billion dollars and still not finished and so the company that is supervising the work of that contract, they have actually come back to cabinet to ask for an extension which will cost another $4.2M on the construction services that are being provided,” Minister Harmon explained.

The Minister of State said, the government must get value for the monies spent. He told the media that the Cabinet has asked Minister of Education Dr. Rupert Roopnarine to meet with the consultancy group on the issue.

“Cabinet gave some very clear directions to the Minister of Education under whose watch these matters fall, to call in this contracting service and have some very firm words with them to the effect that we are not going to tolerate any further extensions because it is basically becoming a travesty, the way in which these matters are being dealt with,” he explained.

The media was also told that Minister Patterson has undertaken to provide an inspectorate division that will inspect government funded projects even beyond the engineering consultants that are there to provide that service. According to Minister Harmon, this is being done so as to ensure that government can be satisfied that this country is getting value for money in the award and execution of contracts.

The Minister is of the view that for too long contractors and consultancy services have been allowed to extend the project unnecessarily. He explaining that contracts would have been budgeted at a specific sum in the initial stage and based on the tender process, the contract would have been awarded. The Kato Primary School was identified as a case in point.

“It appeared to Cabinet that some of these contracts that were coming before it, had been deliberately under-bid. People were bidding low knowing fully well that they would come later on for a variation. In cases like that tenderers who were bonafide, who could have done the work, were actually cheated out of the contract because some persons deliberately bidded low and the contracts were offered to the lowest bidder knowing fully well that they will come back for variations which eventually took the contract sum beyond what was the engineer’s estimate,’ the Minister of State explained.

 

Minister Harmon explained that the new measures that will be put in place fall under the fresh approach that the government has initiated and are all aimed at making contractors more accountable for their work while ensuring and no substandard work is done using tax payers monies.