…more contracts unlawfully awarded under APNU/AFCFormer Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, in his weekly feature “Unruly Horse”, has posited that in the 22 months of its being in office, the Coalition Government has violated the country’s procurement laws in regard to the award of State contracts more times than it had accused the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) of doing in over a decade.Attorney-at-Law Anil Nandlall“I will argue – and if necessary provide the evidence to demonstrate – that there have been more contracts awarded ultra vires and in violation of the Procurement Act (2003) between May 2015 (and) March 2017, (22 months) than from 2003 to May 2015 (over 12 years)!” Nandlall posited.ViolationsAmong the violations to which he alluded were: handpicking an awardee for the Fedders Lloyd contract for construction of the Specialty Hospital; the hundreds of millions awarded for the clean-up of Georgetown; the billions spent on construction of the D’Urban Park; the Parking Meter contract; the Wind Farm project; the $400 million fertilizer deal; contracts for drilling of several deep-water wells, given out by Guyana Water Inc (GWI); the hundreds of contracts being gifted in the Regions in due disregard of the regional tendering system; the rental of the Drug Bond at Sussex Street Charlestown for $14 million per month, and the more-than-$3 billion GPL meter contract.Public Health Minister Volda LawrenceNandlall charged that none of these contracts was executed within the public tendering system, and all were given in violation of the Procurement Act. This despite transparency and accountability in the public procurement process having been the most fundamental issues on the APNU/AFC political platform while they were in opposition, and the greater scrutiny they had been placed on contracts awarded in the public health system, especially those awarded to the NEWGPC.“With the barrage of allegations made of irregularities (in regard to the awarding of contracts to the NEW GPC) over the years, not a scintilla of credible evidence was every presented to support the avalanche of allegations. Significantly, one can hardly recall even a protest being lodged against any of the awards (being granted under the former regime, even though lodging a protest was) a facility available under the Procurement Act. Neither was any of these awards ever challenged in the courts on the ground that they were infected with bias, (were) capriciously done, or (were) done in a manner contrary to/and in contravention of the Procurement Act or any other law,” he posited.The only such challenge the former Attorney General recalled was one filed by a competitor of NEW GPC, alleging that the Ministry of Health’s public procurement process and that of the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB) were designed and skewed to create an unfair advantage in favour of NEW GPC, and thus were discriminatory against the applicant. However, Nandlall related that after the applicant had presented to the court all the requisite procedures, manuals and guidelines, including those from the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Procurement Act – all of which had formed the amalgam of the Ministry’s procurement methodology – the case was dismissed because the applicant abysmally failed to prove the allegations. The former Attorney General outlined that while such pronouncement from a High Court should have put such a matter to rest, the selfsame allegations continue to abound unabated. This, he noted, comes on the heels of the Government finding itself in the midst of widespread scrutiny and criticism following the $605 million sole-sourced contract handed to a foreign company for the acquisition of pharmaceuticals for the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC). The contract was awarded by Public Health Minister Volda Lawrence.“It is uncontroverted that this humongous procurement was done ultra vires and in contravention of the Procurement Act, and is therefore illegal and unlawful. Indeed, NPTAB was informed after the fact. A week after the matter was made public, the Minister offered her explanations in a statement,” Nandlall explained.Drug shortageNandlall contends that the Public Health Minister’s statement raises more questions than it provided answers.