Chief Justice rules in favour of Gov’t in GPL contract case

GINA, Guyana, Saturday, February 18, 2017

Chief Justice (Ag) Yonette Cummings-Edwards last evening ruled in favour of the Government on the matter of a contract to run new power transmission lines and install over 25,000 smart meters on the coastland which was awarded to China National Machinery Import (CMC) a Chinese company, above contractor Paul James under Fix-It Hardware Depot.

Minister of Legal Affairs and Attorney General, Basil Williams SC, who represented the State before the Chief Justice said that he was pleased with the Chief Justice’s decision. He explained that, “the matter had to be dealt with because the company to which the tender was awarded had already got the contract and the IDB was about to pay the money and this is a contract where both the EU and IDB would be paying, so that would have halted the project.”

Hon. Basil Williams, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs

The contract was funded by the European Union (EU) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to the tune of over $4B. The contract was approved and was awarded to the Chinese contractor over Fix-It Depot, which then challenged the decision in court.

Named as respondents in the case brought by Fix-It Depot were the Guyana Power and Light Incorporated (GPL); Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson; the Ministry and its Permanent Secretary, Balraj Balram, and the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB).

The matter was brought to the court on Thursday; however based on the seriousness and urgency of the case, an emergency session was held this afternoon where the Chief justice made her ruling.

The Attorney General (AG) explained that the matter was one of urgency since the Government was anxious in moving forward with the project, especially with the recent blackouts the city has been experiencing. “So it’s very important that we got the loan to enable GPL to go about doing its work,” he said.

The AG further explained that the basis, upon which the order was made, was that the procurement clause be applied, but in fact, in these international agreements the law of the international donor takes precedence, and this is recognised also by the local Act that speaks to conflict with the local law procurement and the international law.

“So the Chief Justice decided that she deals with the matter urgently and she did and she asked us to come… she has given that decision and the Order Nisi is absolute taken into consideration that the contract had already been awarded, the monies are to be paid, and of course recognising the nature of the agreement, that is the need to upgrade the electricity sector and something that would affect the Guyanese people, lack of electricity,” the AG reiterated.

He said that if the decision had gone any other way, and the orders were made absolute, the applicant had nothing to gain because it meant that it would have required the contract to be retendered and that process would have taken six months to a year and Guyana could have certainly lost the loan.

By: Synieka Thorne

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