Public Procurement Commission finds several breaches in award of $870M pump station contract to Tepui Company

Public Procurement Commission finds several breaches in award of $870M pump station contract to Tepui Company

The Public Procurement Commission (PPC) has found that there were several breaches in the issuance of an $870 Million pump station contract to Tepui Incorporated, which is a recently established company that is managed by Social Media talk show host, Mikhail Rodrigues aka “The Guyanese Critic”. However, the Commission noted that it is unable to revoke the contract.

It was Opposition Member of Parliament, David Patterson, who lodged a complaint with the Commission, requesting an investigation to be done into the issuance of the contract to the company.

The almost one-billion-dollar contract issued to Tepui, sparked criticism from the Parliamentary Opposition.

The Opposition questioned the company’s experience in carrying out such a contract, and a red flag was also raised about the award when it was revealed that the company was not even the lowest or second lowest bidder.

In a 35-page long response to Mr. Patterson, the Procurement Commission detailed several irregularities found in the issuance of the contract, but admitted that there is not much it could do since the contract had already been signed and activated.

“Further, on the entry into a contract, privity of contract issues arises. There is nothing within the statutory framework which permits the commission to revoke, rescind, recall and or in any way alter, suspend or stop the contract once entered,” the Commission said in its report.

The Procurement Commission found that the breaches in the award of the contract could have been avoided, and explained that when Tepui entered its bid for the contract, it stated that it had completed similar works before. However, it was revealed that none of those works were completed, and are all ongoing.

The Commission found that the company’s experience could not be based on works which were not fully completed since the criteria required completion of similar projects.

“The Evaluation Committee, which was comprised of two Civil Engineers, appears to have exercised a professional judgment that the work involved in the projects submitted by the bidder were of sufficient complexity and similarity to be considered. Ostensibly, an evaluation, particularly of this criterion, would involve an exercise of judgment or opinion and as with judgments and opinions, there would be mixed views,” the Procurement Commission said in its detailed report.

According to the Procurement Commission whether the Evaluation Committee has a discretion in determining what is a “project of similar nature” is dependent on the terms of the evaluation criteria.

The PPC stated that while there may be precedent for the exercise of such professional judgment and or discretion, an Evaluation Committee should not assume such discretion onto itself but ensure that it is acting within the terms of the evaluation criteria for the specific tender being evaluated.

The Committee also found that instead of a line of credit from a commercial bank or recognized financial institution, the company instead submitted a line of credit from the Puran Brothers waste disposal company.

The company also submitted a letter of credit from CARICOM General Insurance company, instead of a financial institution in keeping with the requirements.   The Procurement Commission stressed that Puran Brothers Disposal and CARICOM general insurance company are not financial institutions.

The company also submitted a bid bond from the Assuria Insurance company and not from a financial institution as is required by law. The Public Procurement Commission again noted that the insurance company is not a financial institution.

On the issue of the company being awarded the contract when it was the third lowest bidder, the Procurement Commission revealed that it was informed by the National Tender Board that the lowest bidder had already been granted a contract for another similar project.

The investigation by the Public Procurement Commission also found that the Tepui company did not submit any financial statements and also did not provide evidence of ownership of all of the equipment to offset the multi-million dollar contract.

Still with all of those breaches in the award of the contract, the Procurement Commission indicated that it could not revoke the contract at this stage.

Last evening, Minister for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh, said the Government has noted the release of the investigation, and will take the recommendations on board.

He said the recommendations are useful for consideration going forward.

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