… Chairman fears funds will be returned to TreasuryThe continuous failure of the Regional Procurement and Tender Administration Board to meet on a regular basis and award contracts is severely affecting the performance of the economy in Region One (Barima-Waini).Region One Regional Chairman Brentnol AshleyRegional Chairman Brentnol Ashley during an interview with Guyana Times expressed that the state of the region’s economy is extremely worrisome, owing to the fact that economic activities which are normally driven by the awarding of contracts are at a standstill.He explained that the Regional Executive Officer (REO) Leslie Wilburg, who is also the Chairman of the Board, and therefore has the responsible for calling the meetings, has not been doing so. This has resulted in the delay in commencement of various projects earmarked for completion this year.“We’re already in the sixth month of the year and we have seen no movement and this is a major concern,” Ashley lamented, noting that if the contracts are not awarded before the presentation of the next budget, the monies allocated to the region will have to be returned to the Consolidated Fund.“There is no guarantee we will get that money back and no guarantee the budget will be higher than the current budget. The first thing that the Planning Secretary will say is that if you can’t spend $1 then why are you now asking for $15? They might very well cut you down to 5 cents or 50 cents… Government committed to having budget 2017 ready this year so there is no such place for rollover projects. So if you don’t do the project then the money goes back to the Consolidated Fund and the development of the region will be one step backward rather than forward,” he explained.The Regional Chairman disclosed that there are a number of projects that should have been at least 50 per cent completed by now, but have not yet commenced.Some of these projects include rehabilitation works to schools, bridges leading to schools, health centres, roads as well as the construction of health institutions and schools.In Waramuri-Moruca community, residents have been calling for a new secondary school, however no moves have been made to address this concern.The Regional Chairman explained that every day, the number of students attending the existing school keeps increasing, adding that there is a genuine need for a new educational institution in the area.Also, in the new township of Mabaruma, the health institution there is without an ambulance and no moves have been made to procure one.According to Ashley, there is a minibus with the name “ambulance” printed on it; however, the vehicle lacks the amenities of an ambulance.“This is a major concern to me and the region as a whole,” Ashley emphasised, noting that the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) will be hosting a series of meetings aimed at discovering the reasons for these projects to be moving at a snail’s pace and what measures can be put in place to address the issues.“We have communities that are suffering for proper bridges, health institutions, infrastructure for schooling, proper roads and it is not that provisions are not there but rather because the provisions are not being utilised in a meaningful way and in a timelier manner,” he noted.In relation to the awarding of contracts in the region, Ashley pointed out that another major issue is the fact that a sole contractor receives a number of projects and because of this, substandard works are being delivered or deadlines are not being met.“When a contractor gets a number of projects, the manner in which they are done and secondly the timeframe for them to be completed. Right now we have a number of outstanding projects from last year that we needs to be completed, that have not yet started,” he stated.He also contended that the awarding of contracts to a single contractor is not beneficial to the development of village economies.“I believe that in the good conscience of the tender board, I believe that equal opportunities should be provided to every person in the region so that we can revitalize our regional economy by resuscitating our village economies that are already stagnated,” he stated.Ashley acknowledged that the work of the tender board is governed by the law, but he pointed out that provisions of justifications can be made for the awarding of contracts to those who have not bid the lowest.“In a vast region like Region One, one supplier should not be earmarked to serving the entire region… Even though that would be the lowest bidder, there is still provisions for justifications for the service be done by someone else in a specific sub region. I would prefer that they do the justification rather than awarding the lowest bidder,” he stated.In this way, he explained, everyone can benefit.