Airport contractor has many more questions to answer
“China Harbour has not given us a grant… it is a loan, and what we need to know is what are the terms and conditions of the loan?” – APNU
By Leonard Gildarie
A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) insists that the contractor China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) has a number of outstanding questions to answer in relation to the US$150M Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) expansion project.
Speaking to the media yesterday during APNU’s weekly press conference, Joseph Harmon, the coalition’s Shadow Public Works Minister, asserted that the Chinese company “missed an excellent opportunity to clear the air with the Parliamentary Opposition”.
CHEC officials were in Guyana recently to defend several allegations of corruption dogging the firm and its parent company, China Communications and Construction Company (CCCC).
According to Harmon, APNU wanted a “full explanation of the project” so that the concerns of Guyanese citizens could have been raised.
Among these issues include conditions under which Guyana will be granted the massive loan, along with details of the repayment. It should also include details like interest rates, Harmon stressed.
“China Harbour has not given us a grant… it is a loan, and what we need to know is the what are the terms and conditions of the loan… will the number of passengers in years to come help repay the loan?”
According to Harmon, the project could be likened to a Guyanese wanting to build a home and applying for a loan at a bank. The bank would have to be satisfied that the client has the capacity to repay.
“You must satisfy yourself that you have the capacity to repay this money that you are going to borrow or that your children will be able to do so…and that is what we are doing. We are mortgaging the future of our children and our grandchildren in these major projects.”
Over the weekend, APNU had written CHEC protesting its failure to meet with the Parliamentary opposition – an opposition that had many questions.
According to Harmon, CHEC responded to APNU and indicated its commitment to meet.
“In a sense, it is an apology,” the Parliamentarian said. The US$150M expansion of the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) has been under fire after it was announced in Jamaica in November. There was no mention of it in the press locally.
The Guyana Government has said that CHEC’s regional office in Jamaica inadvertently released the details of the deal before it could have been blessed by this government’s Cabinet of Ministers, the administration’s highest decision-making body.
The seeming secrecy under which it was signed was heavily criticized by the opposition, especially in light of the fact that it was done days before former President Bharrat Jagdeo was due to complete his term in office, and days before the November 28th General and Regional Elections.
There were startling revelations also that CHEC and its parent company had been debarred from road and bridge contracts funded by the World Bank until 2017 after investigations found corruption links of a project in the Philippines.
Last year, a Chinese court sentenced a senior port official there to death for taking bribes from CHEC. A Bangladeshi court also sentenced the son of a former Prime Minister to six years in absentia for laundering money he had received in bribes from CHEC.
Earlier this year, the Sudan government temporarily halted a Euros 900M airport project over fears of the high costs.
Last week, CHEC insisted that the incidents were isolated ones within its subsidiaries. The Guyana government has also said that a local review of the allegations did not find any reasons to stop the project and that it will continue.
Some 1,800 persons living in proximity to the Timehri airport are to be relocated.
Also at APNU’s press conference yesterday were Parliamentarian Winston Felix and executive member Lance Carberry.