Latest update March 24th, 2023 12:59 AM
Nov 23, 2016 News
…By Abena Rockcliffe- Campbell
As long as a company’s name includes the word ‘Inc.’ it must be incorporated/registered before it can begin official operation.
On Monday, Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson, told the National Assembly that from the beginning of the Durban Park Project, in 2015, Homestretch Development Inc. managed the financial affairs of the project.
That company, he said, collected all donations and channeled it towards the development of the project. However, according to documentation filed at the Registry, the company was only registered on January 22, last.
Opposition Member of Parliament, Juan Edghill, had tabled a motion on the Durban Project. That motion called for answers on several aspects of the Durban Park project. On Monday, for Members’ Day the opposition motions dominated the business of the House.
The government, using its one seat majority, blocked the Motion.
But Patterson addressing issues contained in the Motion, listed the directors of Homestretch Development Inc. He named Lawrence (Larry) London as the Chairman of the Company. London is also the Chairman of the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA).
Patterson also named the other directors but neglected to name Minister of Education Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine. Dr. Roopnaraine was slated to speak to Edghill’s Motion but eventually conceded to Patterson.
Yesterday, Kaieteur News visited the company’s registered address—Lot 18 Lamaha Street. The building is unoccupied and the compound is home to pigeons.
At the People’s Progressive Party/Civic press conference at Freedom House yesterday, the party addressed the concerns about the “scandal of monumental proportions” surrounding the execution of the Durban Park Project.
Opposition Chief Whip, Gail Teixeira, hosted that press conference with Members of Parliament Irfaan Ali and Edghill.
Edghill told the media that he was disappointed in the way the government handled that “simple Motion of transparency.” He said that more questions than answers remain. He said that in addition to the over $400M that was spent from the public purse, more State resources were utilized in the form of material provided by other State institutions like the Demerara Harbour Bridge Company.
“What was the actual cost of the Project?” Edghill queried. That is a simple question that the government, which championed itself on transparency, failed to answer.
“Before Homestretch Development Inc. was incorporated who collected the money?’
Edghill challenged the government to dispute, what he called a “fact” that this company was set up for the sole purpose of the execution of the Durban Park project.
He said, however, that a question still floating around in his mind is “Why? Why did the Ministry of Public Infrastructure have to take over from Homestretch Development Inc.? Did it breach an agreement? Was there misappropriation?”
Since he failed even through the Motion to get answers from the government, Edghill yesterday called on Homestretch Development Inc. to “come clean” and let the nation know what is going on.
He questioned what stake does the company have in the project? Is there any ownership? Did the company pay any taxes, “or was it exempted, if it was we need to know under what grounds.”
Edghill said that exposure of the activities of the Minister of State, Joseph Harmon during his trip to China reflected a serious blow to the project. He said that the “China-gate really shook things up.”
“When we had that exposure of who accompanied the Minister of State on his trip to China; then we saw the revocation of the appointment (of Brian Tiwarie) as an advisor. The individual concerned was one of the visible contractors. His trucks were seen on the project.”
Edghill said that shortly after the exposure, “we saw a disappearance of the equipment then we heard the need for money and for work to be done by the Ministry of Public Infrastructure. So it was left to all sorts of interpretation. That is why I was asking that the government clarify what role the China-gate played in leading us to the need for the Ministry of Public Infrastructure to get involved.”
Edghill said that the revelation about the Durban Park Project, coupled with what the nation has learnt about the drug bond fiasco is proof that the APNU+AFC government is involved in corruption “of the highest form.”
Violations of financial laws
Irfaan Ali also weighed in on the concerns he has about the project. He looked extensively at the breaches of financial best practices as specified in the Constitution and the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act (FMAA).
Ali quoted Section 16 of the FMAA which says that there “shall be no expenditure of public monies except in accordance with article 217 of the Constitution.” Article 217 of the constitution says that all monies must be placed into the Consolidated Fund.
He listed at least three other sections of the FMAA which he said were violated.
He said that Section 56 speaks about the accounting procedure. It states that the Minister shall promulgate appropriate accounting standards to be employed by the officials responsible for the maintenance of the records.
Ali looked at the lack of tender process and said, “Not because you were using a force account means you are exempt from the tender process.” A Force account is a payment method used in special circumstances when monies are to be paid out.
Teixeira told the media that because of the simple fact that the land on which the Durban Park has been erected belongs to the state, there had to have been an MOU, a Cabinet agreement and other contracts. She said that if everything is above board it should be no issue for the government to reveal those documents.
Teixeira said that the nation is now seeing the “real McCoy of the APNU+ AFC government while noting that the point is not about the need for the Park but about the absence of transparency.
The Motion that Edghill took before the National Assembly sought full disclosure on the names of the individuals and the private organisation which were in charge of this project from its inception to the April takeover by the Ministry of Public Infrastructure. That question was partially answered.
Edghill asked, too, about the donors and their contributions in cash and/or kind during the initial phase and completion of the Jubilee Durban Park Development Project. That was not answered.
Edghill asked that the government inform the House whether any and which of these contributions were submitted to the Consolidated Fund. Patterson said that no contributions were paid over to the Consolidated Fund. Edghill posed four other questions which were not answered.
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Lies, Lies, Lies!!!
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‘The government, using its one seat majority, blocked the Motion.’
A one seat majority is no longer ‘a monster’ as awee in power now.
And do not ever forget it.
It will be prudent on the GOG to distance itself from the likes of BK and other oportunist with selfish agendas ….those individuals who have no interest in Nation building but personal empowerment at the risk of the Guyanese people.
First there was China Gate, then there was Medical Bond Gate, now there is Durban Park Gate … this administration seems to be on course to surpass the PPP in the ‘gate’ category … wow … send in the clowns .. this has got to be a Chinese circus … no .. a Chinese fire drill … you have got to have a sense of humor to enjoy these antics .. or .. they really are fond of insulting the intelligence of the Guyanese public … without regard for the consequences ..