Gov’t’s commitment to transparency, accountability underscored by completion of PPC Belle Vue report  – Min. Singh

Senior Minister in the Office of the President with Responsibility for Finance and Public Service, Dr Ashni Singh has reaffirmed the government’s commitment to public accountability, and the strengthening of a robust procurement system that can withstand public scrutiny.

During a live address to the nation on Tuesday evening, the senior minister noted the finalisation of the report by the Public Procurement Commission (PPC) on the contract award for the Belle Vue Pump Station on the West Bank of Demerara.

Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance and Public Service, Dr Ashni Singh

The contract has been the subject of contention, as several opposition members of parliament have questioned its validity.

A formal complaint was even launched with the Public Procurement Commission (PPC), and the agency pledged to conduct a thorough probe of the contract.

“The completion of this report by the PPC provides ample evidence that the institutions we have worked for so many years to establish are in fact operating and functioning, and are discharging their extremely important mandates,” he said.

The senior minister said that the recommendations put forward in the report will prove useful for consideration going forward.

He reminded that the structure which requires open, competitive public procurement was established under the previous PPP/C government.

“It was this very PPP/C government that took to parliament a modern and comprehensive public procurement bill that would then be enacted, and establishes the framework for the entire framework and architecture that now provide for competitive public procurement,” he added.

Guyana’s efforts in strengthening its accountability framework have also gained international recognition.

In December 2023, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in its Article IV Report lauded the government’s governance and anti-corruption reforms.

The report noted commendable strengthening of the PPC and upskilling efforts for the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB). The government has also commenced the design of a management information system to improve its operational efficiency.  

The minister also explained the context in which these developments are unfolding. He said that the accelerated infrastructural agenda significantly ramps up the government’s procurement activity to implement a litany of projects. As a result, this places a heavy load on the existing contractors.

This, heightened development agenda, is reflected in the tremendous growth of the National Budget, from $300.7 billion in 2019 to a budget of $1.146 trillion this year.

Within this, the government’s Public Sector Investment Programme including investment in our roads, bridges, schools, hospitals has grown by over 900 percent over the same period to $666.2 billion. This has no doubt had a ripple effect, creating employment and driving economic expansion, while also highlighting a need for more contractors to execute these projects.

“We consider it a matter of policy priority to ensure that the prerequisites are put in place that the construction and contracting industry is able to respond in the manner that would be needed in the immediate and medium term. We have embraced and adopted the objective of growing the contracting industry, increasing the number of companies and entities that have the capability to do construction work on contract to government,” Dr Singh elaborated.

As part of this policy, the government continues to promote the emergence of new and small contractors and ensure that these companies are given the opportunity to be gainfully employed and build their capacity.

Consequently, the government has moved to define the evaluation criteria and the respective thresholds of qualification to ensure that the pool of contractors grow to meet the demand.

Simultaneously, emphasis is placed on ensuring that the companies have the capacity to complete the projects they have been awarded in an effective and efficient way.

The government remains firm on their zero-tolerance policy for defaulting contractors, and is keen on enforcing contractual obligations.

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