– explanations contradict Minister Patterson – Nandlall
Opposition Member of Parliament (MP) Anil Nandlall is not buying into the explanations offered by President David Granger in the latter’s effort to quell concerns surrounding the execution of the D’Urban Park Project.
Calling it “unfortunate” that the President stepped into this realm, Nandlall said that the President attempted to cloud the issue of accountability and transparency in relation to monies spent on the project by glorifying and extolling the virtues of the D’Urban Park Project.
The PPP representative said that the strategy employed by President Granger mirrors the stance taken by government MPs when questioned in Parliament about issues surrounding the project, so as to “avoid addressing the real issues.”
Nandlall said that the “fact” is that the private company was “secretly” established and collected hundreds of millions of dollars to spend to develop a State asset.
He noted that information about Homestretch Development Inc and its directors was not made public until Monday when Minister of Public Infrastructure David Patterson “was forced to disclose these details in the National Assembly. Even then, he misled the National Assembly by not naming Minister of Education, Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine, as a Director.”
Nandlall also recalled that on that occasion, Patterson refused to divulge how much money it received and from whom; how much monies are owed and to whom these monies are owed. And what process of procurement was used by this company to procure goods and services for the project. Nandlall said that Patterson also refused to disclose the total cost of this project, what the liabilities arising from this project are, and the costs for the day to day management of the project.
The former Attorney General said that the law is very clear on this issue. He said that once private monies are used on a public project it must be spent and accounted for in the same manner like public monies.
“Clearly this was not understood by those who formed this private company. It is obvious that this company was used for this project so that the monies received and spent would not be the subject of Parliamentary scrutiny and oversight and the procurement of goods and services would not have to be done in accordance with the Procurement Act. This is exactly what transpired, and that is why Minister Patterson refused to answer the questions posed to him in the National Assembly,” Nandlall said.
He recalled that Patterson directed opposition MPs to further their questions to Homestretch Development Inc., and said that he (Patterson) is not answerable for that company.
“However, the following day when the Company Secretary, Larry London, was asked by the Press these very questions, he said he gave Minister Patterson all the information,” Nandlall pointed out.
“Then the President enters the fray and clearly demonstrates either he is out of sync with reality or is trying to mislead the nation. The President says that the Government did not have money to commence work on this project and as time was running out, this company was incorporated to start the work until the Government was able to get funding from its budget.”
Nandlall said however that the Budget was passed in August 2015. “So by September 2015 there was money to be spent by the Government. This company was not incorporated until January 2016. However, massive works started on this project in September 2015. The President’s story therefore, simply does not make sense.”
Nandlall said that Granger conveyed the impression that this is a Government company. He recalled however, Minister Patterson was at pains in the National Assembly to convey the impression that this is a private company for which the Government is not answerable.
“If the company was a Government company as the President claims, why was this not made public for the past eleven months? There are three Directors of this company who have no known connection to the Government. Who are these people? If it was a Government company why did it not receive monies through the constitutional process, that is, via the Parliament?
“Why was the Procurement Act not used, but contractors were handpicked? Where is the Cabinet decision to incorporate this company? Will this company be audited by the Auditor General? We are aware that hundreds of millions of dollars are owed to contractors, who will pay these debts?”
Nandlall said that “irrespective of how it is spun, the financial provisions of the Constitution, several provisions of the Financial Management and Accountability Act and the Procurement Act were all grossly violated and the entire fiasco reeks of corruption, cronyism and criminality”.
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