Chartered Accountant Anand Goolsarran believes that those in authority need to provide an answer
to whether the persons who were responsible for the mismanagement of the Fibre Optic Cable Project, thereby causing a loss of taxpayers’ money, will be sanctioned for their actions.
The management team responsible for the $7.9B project were Project Manager Alexei Ramotar, son of former President Donald Ramotar; Deputy Project Manager Anil Singh and Technical Advisor, the late Walter Willis.
Ramotar and Singh were hired by the Office of the President and Willis by the Ministry of Public Works, now the Ministry of Public Infrastructure.
Based on an audit into the project conducted by Chartered Accountants Ram and McRae, it was reported that the incomplete state of the project was primarily due to ineffective planning, management and inadequate oversight. Also, it was reported that adequate supervision was not conducted and acts of negligence resulted in damage to fibre optic cables and equipment which were expensive to replace.
In an interview with Kaieteur News, Goolsarran, a former Auditor General, said that he is aware that the lack of a feasibility study, poor planning, and the absence of effective project management and the use of inexperienced contractors are some of the major contributing factors that led to the failure of the project.
“In particular the cable running from Linden to Lethem has been badly damaged because it was improperly laid in a terrain that is subject to quite a lot of erosion, especially during the rainy season.”
It is against this backdrop which Goolsarran believes that Government authorities should address the issue regarding possible sanctions against those who were responsible for the severe cases of mismanagement which plagued the project resulting in its failure.
Moreover, Goolsarran said that one has to be careful in deciding whether it is worthwhile to salvage the project. “We do not want to spend that kind of money only to realise that the problems have not been fixed.”
The Auditors who looked into the project said that notwithstanding the principle that sunk costs are irrelevant; this Project should be continued to completion.
Recently the government, through its Public Telecommunications Minister Cathy Hughes had announced that the resuscitation of the Georgetown to Linden Fibre Optic Cable Project has been stalled, pending the results of two independent studies.
The first study was the financial audit done by Chartered Accountants Ram and McRae and the second study was done by a team of communications specialists.
Hughes explained that a draft report of the second study was submitted on May 6, 2016, but it has not yet been accepted as final. The Minister said that the two reports have been received, but no decision has been taken, it is still under review.
The government had allocated $140 million to finance the consolidation, monitoring, maintenance and extension of the existing E-Government Fibre Optic and Long Term Evolution (LTE) Network.
Additionally, a sum of $100 million was set aside to repair and upgrade the Georgetown to Linden Fibre Optic Cable.
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