Jun 11, 2016 News
Leading up to the May 11, 2015 General Elections, many billboards were erected throughout the country
to inform the populace about the advancements being made by the Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI) to improve its water distribution process.
However, these billboards carried an additional feature – “Vote PPP/C”. This was attached to some. This, leading up to the elections, resulted in a few raised eyebrows.
Neil Sukhlal, Managing Director of Impressions Advertising – the company that designed, printed and erected billboards for GWI – had stated there were monies that were still owed to him by GWI for his services. He also claimed that his original works for the billboards did not include the PPP/C logo and that it might have been placed there by unknown individuals from the party.
Impressions reportedly constructed 20 billboards at a unit cost of $300,000 each – a total of $6M, with the original design of the billboards set to be affixed with Guyana’s Coat of Arms and the GWI logo.
However, upon verification of the billboards located at Covent Garden and Eccles, it was revealed that they were instead, originally created with the “VOTE PPP/C” logo.
According to the Forensic Audit that was conducted for the period October 2012 to May 2015 , GWI’s then Chief Executive Officer, Shaik Baksh, stated that the justification for the billboards location and designs that “the designs were reviewed by me and PR (Public Relations) Unit and are in conformity with GWI’s Water Infrastructural Projects and Community Awareness Programme, Proceed early.”
The report stated that this was contrary to statements given by the Deputy Finance and the Public
Relations Officer (PRO) on designs/specifications and funding source.
The auditors came to several conclusions, with one being that the billboards were not done in accordance to original designs and specifications – that there was no evidence to substantiate that the supplier – Impressions – was instructed to affix the PPP/C party logo on billboards, however, it was possible that this could have been done unofficially.
The auditors had recommended that the supplier, Impressions, should not be paid since he was found to be “dishonest and works were not to the standard requirements.”
However, despite this recommendation, Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Richard Van-West Charles during a recent press conference stated that the Board had met and has decided to pay for the controversial billboards that were produced by Impressions. Some $4.5 million was outstanding for the advertising company.
Dr. Van West Charles stated that there are more important issues that need to be dealt with such as improving the quality of the GWI’s service to the nation hence, the agency cannot afford to be involved in any legal entanglement.
This he said, will only lead to more time being wasted along with unnecessary expenses. While admitting that he is not comfortable with the decision made, he wants the issue to be over and done with.
Dr.Van West Charles stated that there is no evidence at this point to verify that Impressions had initially printed the billboards with the PPP campaign logo, but that the labels were subsequently placed by party
He continued that that his role as the CEO is to serve the Board and the people. Dr. Van West Charles assured that under his watch, issues like these will never reoccur.
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