Opposition Leader David Granger is saying that the work of former President Bharrat Jagdeo and his then government, in the signing of a “suite of flawed deals” has left the Opposition with a tedious task.
Granger, during an interview, said that his party, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), now has to review “all those flawed projects” in an effort to ensure that the coming Guyanese generation can still be chanced a bright future.
The politician noted that the suite of flawed projects includes the Amaila Falls Hydroelectric project, the Skeldon Sugar Factory, the Marriott Hotel, the One Laptop Per Family (OLPF) programme, the e-Governance fibre optic cable and the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) expansion.
According to the Opposition leader, these projects are terribly flawed by the absence of best practices and good governance.
Granger told Kaieteur News that “all these projects are big, glamorous, alluring projects but all have flawed deals.”
He said, “APNU was not in existence when most of these deals were signed. We are now trying to go through the agreements to see how we could adjust Government policies to conform to international best practices and for them to actually make sense.”
Granger informed, “We cannot say at this point and time that we will obstruct or prevent. We first need to find out all we can. But as far as we are concerned, where it is legislatively possible; we are going to try to bring those projects back into the National Assembly so that they can be thoroughly ventilated. “
The Berbice Bridge, which has been tagged US48M, is one of the projects that still attract criticism from various citizens.
Wealthy investors, even after the completion of the bridge, remain the principal beneficiaries of that bridge. It has been said that the State has been foregoing revenues so that the privileged investors can earn dividends.
The price to cross the Bridge by vehicle is more than was required to cross with the ferry.
Dr Janette Bulkan, in a letter had asked, “How can the price for crossing a bridge be more than crossing with a ferry which has to burn fuel 2,200 per car versus the Demerara River Bridge toll of $200 per car?”
A Berbician, Dr. Bulkan said that while the Berbice River Bridge was being constructed, “the majority of poor Berbicians might have thought that they would be paying the same toll as the Demerara River bridge commuters.
“They lost corn and husk; there is no alternative cheap ferry. They must use the Berbice River Bridge.”
Next was the Skeldon Project. Guyana now carries the debt burden of the white elephant named Skeldon Sugar Factory whose costs to date has exceeded US$200M.
Then came the One Laptop Per Family (OLPF) Project which was the brainchild of the then president, Bharrat Jagdeo. That project costing around US$27M attracted much criticism.
Government set aside US$9M for the first 30,000 laptops. The aim is to distribute 90,000. Each laptop has a government price tag of US$299.
The Marriot Hotel, US$58M, has been dubbed “a project to suck the life out of Guyana”. The still unnamed investors are set to benefit most from the project while, the State, through NICIL, will be investing just as much for less benefits.
Winston Brassington, NICIL’s Chairman and Chairman for Atlantic Hotel Inc, the special purpose vehicle set up to drive the Marriott project, would have had to be consulting with himself to make deals for the projects.
Other issues raised were that there has been no independent risk analysis, Guyana is not a tourist destination, and there are already many hotels in the city. Also, no Guyanese has been hired to work on the construction of the hotel.
The US$40M Government’s Information Communication Technology (ICT) project referred to as the fibre optic cable project which has already missed numerous deadlines is another project that was under scrutiny. The quoted cost is likely to be significantly increased as Alexei Ramotar, Project Manager of E-Governance Unit, said that local contractors who had bid for the project initially had underestimated the task.
The Amaila Falls Hydroelectric Project is one of the more popular flawed government deals. The controversy that has surrounded the venture has been endless. But some of the issues of the project include the fact that it will become outdated five years after its commencement, being then useless to the Guyanese population.
The project despite its high cost will not be catering for the entire nation. There has also been much secrecy surrounding the project, including government equity and the real value of the plant as opposed to the purported cost.
Finally, there is the US150M CJIA project. The most recent and worrying issue with this project is the discovery that Government has amended the international best practice standards to take responsibility for any defects in the works being done by China Harbour Engineering Company, the contractors.
The general concern with these projects, Granger stressed, is that this generation of taxpayers and generations to come will end up paying for projects that may never live up to expectations – the Skeldon Sugar Factory being a prime example.
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