Local Gov’t Ministry hosts workshop to target overpayments to contractors
The Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development yesterday hosted a workshop for the Regional Engineers Department and Works Committee, in an effort to target issues surrounding overpayments to contractors for various projects in the ten administrative regions; from the issue of preparation of bills of quantities, to the completion of projects.
The venue was the Guyana International Convention Centre.
Emphasis was being placed on the duties of officers who are tasked with the responsibility of assessing works and recommending payments-the area in which overpayments occur.
Minister of Local Government, Ganga Persaud, addressing the Convention Centre yesterday, said that his Ministry is hoping to put an end to the poor works being reflected in the Auditor General’s report.
Regional officers all gathered at the Turkeyen venue for the workshop. One of the Regional Executive Officers, Deolall Rooplall, was tasked with presenting on the “Budget and Fiscal Management Act”. Design and Preparation of the Bill of Quantities was done by Mr. Kheeraj from the Ministry of Public Works.
Mr. Budhan Nipan, of the Expenditure Planning and Management Unit, presented the topic – Monitoring and evaluating the projects.
Functionality of the Works Committee was presented by Mr. Peter Ramotar, another REO.
The workshop also dealt with the issue of Payments and Overpayments; presenting on this was the Works and Structures Department of the Audit Office of Guyana.
Prior to the workshop, Minister Persaud had explained that “overpayment” in this sense does not mean that contractors getting more than the contract sum, but that they are paid for works which they were not able to complete for whatever reasons.
Overpayments have been repeatedly featured in reports of the Auditor General. There have reportedly been numerous instances of overpayments to contractors by some regions.
These overpayments were as a result of payments made for works without prior assessments. Heads of some agencies have recovered monies, but others did not.
It was reported that despite contracts being incomplete, officers from the works department of the region continue to certify payments.
Persaud yesterday noted that while many may want to point fingers for various political reasons, there are persons from the various political parties who are members of the Works Committee who would report that the works were “satisfactorily” done. This, he explained, is how payments are being issued.
He added that if Regional Officers feel that their salaries are too small, “they should find another job.”