Jun 10, 2012 News
– Chinese company official flies in for emergency meeting
A senior official and team representing the embattled Chinese company involved in the massive Timehri airport expansion project flew in, yesterday for a meeting with government and at least one opposition party, amidst rising concerns.
China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) and its parent company, Communications Construction Company Ltd. (CCCC), have both come under intense scrutiny in Guyana and Jamaica recently for revelations that the World Bank has debarred them until 2017 for bribery.
A Chinese official was last year sentenced to death while the son of a former Bangladeshi Prime Minister was jailed for six years for taking bribes from the company and its subsidiaries.
Yesterday, Zhou Gang, a Vice President of CCCC led a team that met with Prime Minister Sam Hinds.
The team later met with Speaker of the National Assembly, Raphael Trotman and Parliamentarian for the Alliance For Change, Moses Nagamootoo, at the Parliament Buildings.
While the team said it is officially here to explore the possibilities of bringing US$10B in investments to Guyana in terms of infrastructure, the issue of its seriously dented credibility dominated the agenda.
According to the Speaker, the Parliament will be investigating the US$150M deal to rebuild the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA).
He noted that Guyana has a long standing relationship with China, but from time to time issues of concerns and difficulties will arise.
According to Nagamootoo, his party is “strongly against corruption. And we are strongly advocate accountability in everything we do. In that regard, we are very disturbed… very concerned about the newspaper reports about CCCC in issues of accountability in Jamaica. We want you to give us some assurance about the creditability of your company. We want to embrace you as a friend of Guyana but (we are) worried about what we hearing.”
Zhou Gang and his team said that they are here to learn more of Guyana’s concerns and will be relaying the findings back to his headquarters.
On Thursday, seven months after his administration secretly inked an agreement with CHEC in Jamaica, for the CJIA expansion, former President Bharrat Jagdeo backpedaled, calling for
President Donald Ramotar, to review the contract.
Jagdeo’s position, now, is that the World Bank pronouncement on the Chinese contractor “should not be taken lightly.”
He is urging Ramotar to seek explanations from the Chinese Government about the conduct of the company.
This Government to Government route has been suggested given that CHEC is ultimately owned by the Chinese Government.
The former President’s utterance as it relates to his new position for a review of the project is purportedly premised on the need for “value for money” as well as to weed out any possible illegalities that may be uncovered.
Jagdeo also said that based on what the Chinese Government said, the President should make a decision on the project’s feasibility.
The company is currently also under fire in Jamaica after a probe revealed suspicious discrepancies in relation to a US$400M contract awarded there.
It was as a result of this probe that the Jamaican Contractor General, Greg Christie, had cause to highlight the fact that the parent company has been debarred by the World Bank for corrupt practices.
It was subsequently also revealed that the same contractor with which the Jagdeo administration inked the deal, and its parent company, caused at least one Chinese official to be sentenced to death as a result of kickbacks.
The Chinese business executive was handed the death sentence for taking bribes.
This publication reported, also, that the son of a former Prime Minister of Bangladesh was last year jailed in absentia for taking in bribes from this same contractor.
Guyanese learnt of the secret signing between Jagdeo’s representatives and the Chinese contractor now under fire, only after the Jamaican media broke the story.
This investment is the second largest Guyana would be making behind the still to be adequately functional US$200M Skeldon factory. This was also built by Chinese contractors.
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