No racism or discrimination in the award of contracts −Min. Teixeira
Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance, Gail Teixeira has dispelled claims of discrimination in the awarding of contracts to companies owned by Afro-Guyanese for government projects.
Minister Teixeira on Wednesday evening appeared on a programme ‘The Guyana Dialogue’ where she addressed the assertion made by an opposition political party that the PPP/C Administration has awarded contracts mainly to Indo-Guyanese-owned businesses since it assumed office.
The senior government functionary reminded that Guyana has strong constitutional provisions in place that deal specifically with anti-corruption and procurement.
For example, contracts have to go through the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB) before they are awarded to contractors. Contracts $16 million and over are forwarded to the Cabinet for a no-objection. The Cabinet can only grant no-objections, not award contracts.
In 2020, 331 contracts were granted no-objection by the Cabinet, 1,608 in 2021 and 1,790 in 2022. In total, around 4,000 contracts were granted with no-objection by the Cabinet.
The minister explained also, that contracts are tendered at various levels of local government including the Regional Democratic Councils (RDCS), Neighbourhood Democratic Councils, municipalities and ministries.
She said when the opposition members talk about discrimination in contracts, they must be challenged to bring the facts and statistics.
“First of all, there are small contracts that ministries are allowed to have, that they are basically service contracts and these go to a ministerial tender board and they also have to go to the National Tender Board,” she said.
Minister Teixeira highlighted that a claim of marginalisation cannot be made in a country where no one ethnic group is over 50 per cent.
“What is wrong with a contractor, regardless of his/her ethnicity getting a job based on providing the requirements and specifications and financing to be able to do the job. And what if they don’t do the job? Well, they will be terminated and we go to tender again and we bring up another contractor as required by the law.
“But one cannot, it is unacceptable in a multi-ethnic society for a political party to be so highly irresponsible, to be dredging this up all the time about ethnicity. Every Guyanese regardless of their ethnicity have a right to live a better life, a right to housing, a right to water,” the minister said.
She reminded that it was the APNU+AFC cabinet that got into hot water for approving a contract for the new Demerara River Bridge without approval from NPTAB.
Also, big contractors who were aligned with the opposition were hogging up not only billion-dollar projects but small contracts as well.
Now, there is currently over 1,000 small new contractors in Guyana who are doing projects for the government.
“All the parapets being done; the small work being done in communities. It’s not been given to contractors outside but using and developing skills of those in the communities,” Minister Teixeira added.