The Ministry of Agriculture is denying that its agency, the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) was involved in procurement irregularities. Between September 18 and 19, the Kaieteur News carried articles purporting that the Agriculture Ministry was involved in collusion leading to unfair competition and that repeated retendering was giving ‘edge’ to preferred bidders, while proving costly for others.

“The recklessness of the Kaieteur News is compounded by the placement of the photographs of the Honourable Minister of Agriculture Zulfikar Mustapha, and the Chairman of the NDIA, Lionel Wordsworth as part of the article clearly intending to convey to its readers that these two persons are in some way connected with the tendering process about which the articles relate. Kaieteur News must know that by virtue of the Procurement Act 2003, public procurement of goods and services up to a certain limit is done exclusively by the NPTAB (National Procurement and Tender Administration Board), a body that is independent, separate, and apart from both the Ministry of Agriculture and the NDIA.”

The agency added that NPTAB has its employees and the bids received through the tendering process are assessed by evaluators drawn from across the public sector by the NPTAB. It noted that no evaluators are drawn from the sector whose bid is being evaluated.

“In summary, therefore, the Ministry of Agriculture nor the NDIA plays any role whatsoever in the tendering of contracts. If the Kaieteur News had taken the time to do its research rather than rush to publication, the newspaper would have realized that the Hon. Minister of Agriculture Zulfikar Mustapha and the Chairman of the NDIA, Mr. Lionel Wordsworth has nothing to do with the tendering and acceptance of bids, retendering or rejection of bids.”

As it relates to retendering and rejection of bids, the agency said that the newspaper should have taken a closer look at Section 40 of the Procurement Act 2003, which gives those powers to NPTAB and not the Ministry. Therefore, the Ministry of Agriculture nor the NDIA cannot request retendering or rejection of bids. It is only NPTAB that can do so. The NDIA only provides the engineers’ estimate which is published along with the tenders for bids.

“Therefore, it cannot be said that the NDIA (the budget agency) has been turning down competitive bids as is being claimed in the September 19th, 2021 article.
Further, if an aggrieved bidder wishes to know the ground for the rejection of the bid, they can contact the NPTAB for such information.”


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