Govt yet to hold talks with India The Specialty Hospital Project continues to be placed on hold as the Guyana Government is yet to make contact with its Indian counterparts for clarification on the way forward.An artiste impression of The Specialty HospitalIn June, Minister of State Joseph Harmon disclosed that the Government of India, funding the Project via an US$18 million Line of Credit, had indicated that it was ceasing worldwide business with India-based Fedders Lloyd Corporation Limited, after the company was blacklisted by the World Bank until 2020 over fraud and corruption practices.The donor country had also expressed preference for a fresh tendering process to be conducted to select a new Indian-base contractor to execute the project.However, at the time, the A Partnership for National Unity/ Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government said that it wanted to make certain enquiries of the Indian Government before a definitive course of action is adopted on the Specialty Hospital Project.This task was given to the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Finance, and Public Health. However, a government source told Guyana Times that the project has been “shelved” as no contact has been made with the Indian Government. The source said that Minister of Foreign Affairs Carl Greenidge was supposed to take the lead since making contact with a….country falls under his purview.Meanwhile, in a previous interview with this newspaper Public Health Minister Dr George Norton had explained that the impending discussions with the Indian Government will determine whether Guyana will go ahead with the project using a new contractor or have it scrapped entirely, given all the trouble the project has faced.“There is a chance it might come off the table because that Hospital Project is not doing well with how it started and what’s supposed to be… The next step will now be for us to have direct contact with the Indian Government and decide whether it will continue with the loan or not,” Dr Norton had stated.Last November, the coalition Government came under fire following the announcement that it signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Fedders Lloyd to complete the controversial project that was left on hold after the Donald Ramotar Administration sacked and sued the first contractor, Surendra Engineering Inc, for failing to honour its obligations.Guyana is yet to recover close to $1 billion from that company.The APNU/AFC had justified the handpicking of Fedders Lloyd to complete the project, saying that the company was one of the original bidders in the 2012 tendering process.It noted too that after examining the merits of the proposal and in the interest of time, it began searching for a willing partner to complete the Specialty Hospital using the remaining US$14 million. Hence, it approached Fedders Lloyd without any tendering process and the company accepted to construct and fully equip what is expected to be a state-of-the-art medical facility.However, this caused much uproar and controversy after it was revealed that the Indian company was never the second best bidder in the tendering process back in 2012, as claimed by the coalition Government.In fact, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic Opposition had stated that the company was disqualified because of certain inconsistencies in its submission to the local tender board; a report which government contended was a lie.But while in opposition, the APNU/AFC had strongly opposed the US$18 million Specialty Hospital Project and upon its assumption to office last year, decided to scrap the project.It said that the remaining $13.8 million would be better served if it is used to improve the country’s primary healthcare service by upgrading three hospitals across the country.However, the Indian Government had indicated that Guyana should go ahead with the Specialty Hospital and it will provide a separate loan for the primary healthcare project. This second loan is expected to be made available to the Guyana Government.The three hospitals considered for upgrade under the primary healthcare service are the Bartica Hospital, the West Demerara Regional Hospital and the Suddie Public Hospital.
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