The award of a number of contracts by the Regional Tender Board in Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo) has raised eyebrows, particularly as the recipient of these contracts are close relatives of a high-ranking regional official.The Region Nine administration has previously been flagged by the Audit Office for procurement violationsAccording to documents seen by Guyana Times, the recipient of one such contract is the son of the senior regional official. According to the documents seen, he was awarded a $4 million contract through selective tendering for the construction of sanitary blocks at the Kumu Nursery School in Region Nine.Another contract was awarded to the same individual was for maintenance work to the Lethem Sub Treasury Office, to the tune of $489,000.This contract was also awarded by selective tendering, a case in which the contractor has been invited to tender for a project.Meanwhile, another contractor was the recipient of a $2.1 million contract to carry out repairs on the Baitoon Primary school sanitary block. The contractor, who is reportedly the official’s son-in-law, was awarded this contract through selective tendering.Documents also show that he received an even larger contract worth $6.1 million to carry out repairs at the health post at Shea Village, also in Region Nine.This would come at a time when there are rising calls for a policy that will guard against conflicts of interest to be created. Observers have criticised the Ministerial Code of Conduct for lacking teeth and distinct penalties. Meanwhile, the Integrity Commission has complained previously about not having investigators.Region NineRegion Nine has long been a hot button region when its administration is called upon to answer for procurement violations at the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the National Assembly. The Audit Office of Guyana has previously red flagged the region.According to the Auditor General’s 2016 report, a sum of $73.871 million was budgeted for the procurement of drugs and medical supplies under the Health Services Programme for 2016. It stated that amounts totalling $63.871 million were expended as at December 31, 2016.“Included in the amount of $63.871 million are two inter-departmental warrants (IDW) valued $58 million (and) issued in August and November 2016 in the sums of $48 million and $10 million respectively to the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) to purchase drugs and medical supplies on behalf of the regional administration.With respect to the warrant of $48 million, the regional administration received a financial return indicating that the full amount was expended. However, although drugs and medical supplies were received by the regional administration, the cost was not stated on the documentation that accompanied the deliveries”, the report detailed.“As a result, it could not be determined whether the full value was received for the sum warranted to MoPH – 902. With respect to the warrant of $10 million, the regional administration received a ‘nil’ financial return indicating that the amount was unexpended, as such, the Appropriation Account was credited with the unspent amount of $10 million.”The Audit Office had recommended that the regional administration put systems in place to reconcile supplies received by the respective health facilities with the drugs’ list initially submitted. It had also advised that the region obtain the cost of the drugs and medical supplies from the MoPH, so as to reconcile the value of the drugs and medical supplies received with that of the sum warranted to the Ministry.