Every major contract for constant review – there is no gag order on ministers – Ramotar
President Donald Ramotar yesterday committed his government to a “constant review” of massive
infrastructure projects that the government is set to undertake.
“All of these are going to be under constant review,” Ramotar said at a press conference at his New Garden Street, Georgetown Office.
The head of state said that large projects are not static. Rather, they are dynamic and need to be examined all the time.
The Amaila Falls Hydro Project, the extension of the runway at the Cheddi Jagan international airport, and the construction of a Marriott-branded hotel, are among major projects he intends to pursue.
His commitment to constant review of the projects comes following a decision to terminate the US$15.4 million contract to Synergy Holdings to build a road leading to Amaila Falls where a major hydropower project is to be constructed.
Synergy Holdings boss, Makeshwar “Fip” Motilall has claimed that the government was unfair to him and that he is owed US$1 million.
But as far as Ramotar is concerned, Synergy Holdings is owed nothing. However, the Head of State said that he would wait for a full report on “everything” related to the project before he could be definitive.
“Those are technical things we have to work out. I don’t think we have money for him based on the information I have, but I will know definitively in another few days as we look at everything,” Ramotar stated.
Ramotar could not say how much money Motilall was paid before the contract was terminated Thursday.
“What I know is that the government had tried to limit his exposure and we were only paying for w
ork that was done. So whether we owe Mr. Motilall or Mr. Motilall owes us, we’ll find out about that very soon,” he stated.
A contract that Mr Motilall signed with Permanent Secretary in the Works Ministry Balraj Balram in the presence of Government’s Chief Engineer Walter Willis and Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh, stated at Section 1:01, “On March 4, 2011 the Contractor was instructed by the Government of Guyana to cease all works on Section 1. At the time the contractor had completed two kilometers of road upgrade works along Section 1.
“As a result of this cease order, the remaining 47.2 kilometer of road along Section 1 was removed from the contract.”
Section 2:01 of the contract stated, “The amount to be deducted from the original contract amount for the removal of 47.2 kilometer of road from Section 1 is US$1,359,541.”
The President would not be dragged into saying whether the government of his predecessor, Bharrat Jagdeo, made a bad decision in handing Fip Motilall the project in the first place.
“I think everything has to be taken in context and at the time when these things were done they were probably good decisions; that it turned out the way it turned out, is not grounds for me to condemn it.”
However, Publisher of Kaieteur News, Glenn Lall, said that some of the architects of the project should be jailed. He identified former President Bharrat Jagdeo, Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh, head of the Privatization Unit, Winston Brassington, and Fip Motilall.
He said that there was information that could have saved this country money. Motilall was not known to build any road. Further, Lall said, the award of the contract must have been a case of the planners seeking to defraud the people of Guyana. “For this alone they should be sent to prison.”
With the contract terminated, Ramotar said that his government would be looking at new means to move the project forward.
Fip Motilall was given the road contract in March 2010.
The then Bharrat Jagdeo government had vociferously defended the contract given to Motilall and his company, Synergy Holdings, and refused to terminate it despite mounting controversy over his suitability and ability to complete the hydroelectric road.
Minister of Transport Robeson Benn announced the termination of the contract on Thursday. He said the decision is in accordance with Article 9 of the original Contract and is also consistent with the terms of the Agreement for Completion executed on December 21, 2011 between the Ministry of Public Works and Synergy Holdings Inc.
This agreement included, among other things, the provision of a valid Performance Bond to the Government of Guyana from an acceptable institution to the value of 10 percent of the contract price on or before January 10, 2012 for the period of the execution of the remaining works and for the Defects Liability Period.
As of December, 2011, Synergy Holdings Inc had completed only 40 percent of the works despite repeated urgings and interventions from the Project Engineer and the Consulting Firm to have the project completed.
The termination of the contract will result in the government applying liquidated damages at the rate of US$10,000 per day from January 1, 2012 to the date of termination; seizure of contractor’s retention sum; seizing and taking ownership of all pieces of equipment and all other property used by the contractor on the Amaila Falls Access Road Project.
And when asked about the refusal of some Minister to answer questions, President Ramotar said that no Minister has been issued a gag order. He said that they should answer questions put to them.
Ministers have been known to avoid questions from the media.