2000 new small contractors registered, bidding for contracts since 2020 – VP

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana
Vice President Dr Bharrat Jagdeo

Since the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government’s return to office, as much as 2000 new small contractors have been registered and become involved in the procurement system as part of a new eco-system of contractors that continues to grow.

This revelation was made by Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo during a recent press conference in which he responded to claims of discrimination. For instance, allegations have been made that contractors have been denied work on the basis of race and political affiliation.

According to Jagdeo, however, nothing could be further from the truth, and even more contractors of diverse races are now benefitting under the PPP Government than under the former A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government; some 2000 more small contractors, to be exact.

“What did we do to ensure that more people now are part of the procurement system? So, you have about 2000, new small contractors since we took office. We have more Afro-Guyanese companies now than ever before, including under five years under APNU. And that is a fact, and we can list the companies. So contrary to what they say.”

Jagdeo also detailed the steps the Government took to encourage this growth in the contractor pool. These steps include the removal of the two per cent bid bond requirement, allowing contractors working on projects below $15 million more opportunities to bid.

“When the PPP got into office, the biggest problem to small contractors entering the system was the two per cent bid bond. They had to go to the bank if they won a contract, and put up a bid bond. Now, many small contractors don’t have the capability to do that. We removed the bid bond for contractors below $15 million.

“If you tender for above $15 million, you have to get a bid bond from the bank. But below, you don’t have to. So that encouraged a large number of small contractors to be a part of it. And if you’re supplying goods that’s for civil works, you don’t need a bid bond up to $3 million,” Jagdeo further said.

Small contracts that fall below the $15 million margin range from weeding and cleaning to civil works and even the construction of roads. Among the criteria the PPP Government had changed to grant more opportunities to small contractors had been the requirement of three-to-five-years’ experience.

The PPP/C Government has said that it has been hiring new contractors to keep pace with the ongoing rapid development in the infrastructure sector. During a previous press conference, Jagdeo had noted that this has sometimes meant compromising on experience.

“You have to have new contractors. We are building nineteen pump stations and you have very few people with the capacity to build all nineteen…so, often, you have to bring new contractors who may not have the full experience, but you have to see if they have the comparable skills, and have rigid supervision of the contracts,” the Vice President said.

While experience may be subject to compromise, quality work is not. Only recently, it had been announced that all Government ministries will soon have a unit tasked with assessing the performance of contractors across the various sectors. These units will be supported by a Contract Compliance Unit within the Legal Affairs Ministry to provide guidance and file legal proceedings where necessary.

This move followed strict orders by President Dr Irfaan Ali that penalties outlined in a number of Government contracts be enforced for companies that continue to default on their contractual obligations. The President’s comment was made at a meeting with engineers and project managers of the Public Works and Housing ministries to discuss the status of major infrastructure projects.

Attorney General Anil Nandlall had cautioned contractors to ensure that they execute their contracts diligently and deliver projects that cannot be deemed substandard.

He noted that this move by the Government is a demonstration of the administration’s commitment to move condignly against contractors who are negligent in the discharge of their duties.