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Several procurement breaches unearthed in Region 5 by Public Accounts Committee

The Public Accounts Committee on Monday unearthed several instances of procurement breaches in the awarding of contractors in Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice.) during the examination of the Auditor General’s 2017 and 2018 reports.

Current Regional Executive Officer (REO) of Region Five Genevive Blackburn and former REO Ovid Morrison were on Monday questioned by members of the Public Accounts Committee about the discrepancies discovered in the 2017 and 2018 Auditor General’s reports.

The Auditor General’s report stated that 18 contracts totalling $59.1M were awarded to one contractor using the restrictive tendering method; however, there was no commencement or completion date.

Also, 40 contracts totalling $90.1M were awarded to one contractor that was not publicly advertised or did not have documentation.

The PAC members grilled the Former REO Morrison to explain the reason behind the awarding of these contractors; however, his explanation did not sit well with members of the body.

According to Morrison, the contracts were for emergency works.

"We are in a rice-cultivated region. Fertilisers from the rice We are in a rice-cultivated region. Fertilisers from the rice industry, when they have to let out the water, carry that residue into the canals (and) cause the weeds to go. Because workers were supposed to remove those weeds spray instead of desilt, over a period of time it forms a foundation reducing the capabilities of the canal to hold water during the rainy season……..So, we cannot wait until that time or else the cash crop farmers, the cattle rearers would suffer…"

In light of this explanation, PAC Member and Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance Gail Teixeira requested that a forensic investigation be done as $90M and $59M are at stake.

Minister Teixeira believes that these breaches are much bigger than they seem.

"In light of paragraphs 945 (2018) and 820 (2017), I am calling for a full investigation by the Auditor General Office. This PAC cannot do it on our own, but we want a full investigation in regards to the violations that took place of the Procurement Act under these paragraphs alone," Minister Teixeira stated.

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