Talks begin on whether to blacklist defaulting contractors

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The Public Procurement Commission (PPC) on Monday began a series of consultations on proposed regulations to allow public entities to blacklist contractors.

The Suspension and Debarment regulations are expected to address contractors’ poor execution of works on Government contracts.

Chief Executive Officer of the Commission, Sean Noel said the regulation is a way of protecting the public purse.

At the opening of the consultation with various entities at the Regency Hotel on Hadfield Street, Georgetown on Monday, Noel said that this year, public procurement entities are responsible for the management of over $110B.

Therefore, he said even a small improvement in the procurement process can result in significant savings.

“Debarment or suspension are not intended to be punitive remedies but rather are premised on the need to protect the public purse,” he noted.

The PPC CEO stated that individuals and companies who are not responsible enough in their relationship with public procuring entities will be debarred from either temporarily or permanently from doing business with Government.

There have been several complaints in the past about contractors doing shoddy work.

Budget Director, Sonya Roopnauth recently disclosed that there are a number of contractors who were awarded contracts last year but are still to complete the projects even as another budget cycle is approaching.

Roopnauth, at a discussion forum on the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) at the Pegasus Hotel on September 13, explained that “the private sector person will tender for a project here and tender for a project in Region Y and then suddenly discover they can’t manage both projects.”

Additionally, the Region Four Democratic Council (RDC) had reason to order a full investigation into the construction of the Supply, East Coast Demerara Health centre following complaints of shoddy works.

The RDC in a statement on September 29 said complaints were received about the poor quality of work at the facility and the contractor was asked to stop casting the flooring of the building since a tree stump which was supposed to have been removed was being covered.

Several contractors are more interested in winning contracts than delivering quality work for taxpayers’ dollars, the RDC lambasted.

At Monday’s forum, Chairperson of the Public Procurement Commission, Carol Corbin explained that the Procurement Act includes references to debarment and suspensions, however, the required regulations or settlement for the debarment process were not included.

Under the current Public Procurement Act, references are made for debarment and suspensions, however, according to Corbin, the required regulations or settlement for the debarment process were not included.

Chairperson of the Public Procurement Commission, Carol Corbin

“The Act includes these references but no action could have been taken over these years to actually debar or suspend contractors and suppliers because of course, the relevant supporting regulations do not exist at this time,” she said.

The Chair explained that the process, though meant to be completed by the end of this year, was stalled since the report from a Consultancy Firm was only completed in September, paving the way for consultations.

A Public Procurement modernization and financial strengthening programme was signed between the Government and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and included the funding of a consultant to review the procurement legal and regulatory framework prior to the establishment of the PPC in October 2016.

As such, the process was taken up by the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB).

Corbin explained that the PPC learned of the consultancy firm in the Auditor General’s 2016 report and acquired the review which it found did not include the role of the Commission.

In May of 2018, another Consultancy Firm was hired to conduct the process and completed its report at the end of September 2018.

In January of 2018, a local contractor Vevakanand Dalip Enterprises, was blacklisted by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and barred from tendering for IDB projects for 13 years.

Vevakanand Dalip Enterprises is just one of many other companies which have been blacklisted by the IDB.

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