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Letter to the Editor: BK responds to Donald Ramotar

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Dear Editor,

I crave your indulgence in a matter of grave concern to me and of potentially having  damaging effects to me, my family and company that I have worked honestly and hard to build.

 

Particularly, I would wish to refer to a page 11 article published in the Thursday, June 30, 2016 edition of the Stabroek News captioned “$800M in specialty hospital steel ‘awarded’ to BK”. This was also headlined in the edition referred to. The article referenced the utterances of former President Donald Ramotar questioning the ‘award’ of the containers to BK International. The Stabroek News says “the items were ‘given’ to BK International. Editor, since we did not get an opportunity to respond to the allegations of the former President, now a private citizen, we now wish to respond as follows:

 

  • Surendra Engineering owes BK International approximately G$400M for foundation work done on the specialty hospital.
  • BK International filed legal proceedings against Surendra Engineering in Guyana and India courts
  • BK International was granted judgment against Surendra Engineering by the High Court of Guyana after the company conceded that it owed BK Inc. the sum claimed
  • The Managing Director (MD)of Surendra Engineering was prevented by a Court Order from leaving Guyana pending the honoring of the judgment granted to BK International
  • The Donald Ramotar Cabinet on the advice of his Attorney General, Anil Nandlall flew in the face of the court’s decision and allowed the MD to leave
  • The containers that were shipped into Guyana were sold by auction executed by the courts of Guyana.

I am therefore publicly requesting that a thorough investigation be done into the issues relating to the award, periodic execution, failure and subsequent events following the suspension of Surendra Engineering from the Specialty Hospital Contract.

 

While I am not in a position to decide that the above investigations should be initiated with some immediacy I truly hope that my missive serves enough notice in this regard. Ultimately, it would serve this nation well if a performance audit was to be conducted into the presidency of Donald Ramotar. Let the facts and the findings speak for themselves.

 

Former President Ramotar in claiming that 8 containers valued $800M demonstrates clearly his gross incompetence in dealing with this issue while he was President. A school child would have even before taking the containers in their possession would have ascertained the value and contents of the container.

 

All the containers had were mere steel rods and it was clear that contrary to what was told to the government, none of the expensive steel frames was in the container.  To refresh Former President Ramotar on this issue, if he had researched it properly, he would have seen that the estimated cost of the cargo in the containers was approximately US$153,000 and that is consistent with the contents in the container.

 

BK having been granted an award against Surendra for works done at the site could have properly levied on the containers and on assets owned by Surendra but the government had taken possession of the containers and BK did not pursue that route. Instead as was stated above the container were taken to an auction and was bought by an individual, not BK.

 

The amazing omission of the former government was their failure to do elementary home work as to the contents being shipped and to monitor the expenses based on the massive amounts for mobilization that were paid to Surrendra.

 

The former government knew fully well that BK was subcontracted to do foundation work and had expended enormous amounts to do piling works and stock materials on site yet proper supervision and monitoring of the project by the government was absent.  Huge sums of money were paid over to Surendra and they were allowed to walk away.

 

It would have served the Former President Ramotar well to be careful in dealing with this issue knowing very well that the project was mismanaged by his administration.

 

Since Former President Ramotar is talking about transparency and corruption he must explain how is it that his administration sold to his brother 3 barges and 1 tug for a price below $20M. His brother flipped one of the barges in a transaction for $50M in a matter of days after purchase.  This was followed by a sale by the Ministry of Public Works  of another barge valued in excess of $150 million and this was again sold to his brother for a mere 3 million dollars,  causing the state to lose millions of dollars.

 

Former President Ramotar must explain the sale of 25 acres of sugar land belonging to the West Demerara Estates for chick pea price again to associates of his brother with his brother being a main beneficiary.

 

If steel in containers is a concern of former President Romotar, he should be equally concerned about the Fiber Optic cable fiasco. The poor service and incompetence of his son as the head of the project along with the government engineer allowed for neglect, mismanagement and fraud to be committed against the state.

 

Contrary to the views of some that BK International was a favored contractor of the PPP Administration, the records will reveal all contracts awarded to BK were done so after a bidding process was completed.  There were some instances where BK was unjustifiably denied contracts even though we were the most competitive bidder. There were numerous occasions when BK had to challenge these injustices through the courts in Guyana.  The records will, therefore, show that BK was no favoured contractor in the PPP regime.

 

Editor, the records will also show that BK International was the first local company to qualified itself with the appropriate equipment, infrastructure, engineers and personnel which allowed us to bid and receive contracts for projects under the IDB, European Union, Caribbean Development and Word Banks among others.

 

To summarize the issues then and to add a few others, the former President should answer my claims on the following.

 

  • The sale of 25 acres of GUYSUCO lands at the Boerasirie on the West Coast of Demerara to Mr. Donald Ramotar’s relative
  • What part Mr. Ramotar played in the near collapse and wrong-doings of GUYSUCO while he sat on its board for all the years
  • How a 40 foot container of spares for a Barge/ Tug valued at US$100K delivered to the former President’s brother by a Chinese businessman operating at Land of Canaan.
  • What import duties etc. were paid on the said container
  • How NICIL was able to sell the Former President’s brother three barges and one tug for less than G$20M during his tenure
  • Why was there no tender for this sale
  • How was his brother able to resell one of the barges to a West Coast, Demerara businessman for G$50M
  • What was the inner workings on the project of laying the fiber optic cable from Lethem to Linden
  • How and why was the contract for the Ruby Backdam road awarded personally and directly by the Former President to the highest bidder as opposed to BK with the lowest tender
  • How was Surendra Engineering awarded two Prospecting Licenses in the North West District
  • How did a Former Attorney General become a Real Estate mogul
  • How many properties in and out of Georgetown was acquired by the same Former Attorney General during his tenure in office
  • How many hotels are owned, in some cases partially, by the same Former Attorney General
  • To whom were Casino Licenses granted and why.

 

For those like Former President Ramotar and others who want to convey the impression that BK only jumped ship after the new Government was formed in May 2015, I want to make it abundantly clear that like every patriotic person in Guyana, I took a conscious decision to support the move for change and this decision was made one year before the 2015 elections. There are numerous persons who can support this.

 

Our manner of doing business was never, nor is not to deal with issues in any underhand way and we urge the former President to get his facts correct when making derogatory statements against a company like ours.

 

BK International will continue to provide support and growth of our nation while we continue to provide employment of numerous Guyanese for the betterment of themselves and their families.

 

Sincerely,

Brian Tiwarie AA

Managing Director

BK Group of Companies

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