…still tracking paper trail for monies spent
Auditors are continuing to dig into one of the signature projects undertaken by the coalition Government shortly after the May 2015 elections.
Several questions still linger about more than $1B spent on the D’Urban Park project, as auditors pursue critical information relating to the initial stages of the project.
In recent weeks, the Ministry of Public Infrastructure (MPI) turned over some documents that auditors had sought for months, but more information is still required as auditors zero-in on payments made to Homestretch Development Inc. (HDI), a special purpose company that started initial works on the project.
HDI was dissolved and MPI took control of the project. During the time of HDI’s stint on the project, the Ministry of the Presidency was in control of the project, with Larry London as Coordinator.
The development of the D’Urban Park Project started in September 2015 in preparation for the hosting of the 50th Independence Anniversary Jubilee Celebrations.
Opposition Member of Parliament, Juan Edghill, who sits on the Public Accounts Committee, which scrutinises Government spending, has long called on the Government to turn over the files to the Auditor General (AG)’s Office.
He expressed the view that it is time for the Government to give their full cooperation to the AG’s office and release every contract and agreement signed on the project.
“It is time for the PNC (People’s National Congress)-led coalition Government to come clean with the people of Guyana as it relates to the D’Urban Park Project. This project needs to find a place of full accountability,” Edghill told Kaieteur News yesterday.
Edghill had disclosed that the National Assembly was informed that the project would be funded by private individuals through an unnamed private organization, and, that this project would be no drain on the public purse.
“The Government would have used donations and spent taxpayers’ money on this project. The half-baked, concocted stories that we would have heard is unacceptable,” Edghill stated.
He also noted that although more than $1B was spent on the project, some contractors are still owed. According to Edghill, Government did not receive value for money, as repairs are undertaken whenever there is an event at the venue.
“It is a dark hole, because we are spending more and more money for the upkeep of the facility. The AG must stand firm and perform his functions without fear, or favour, ill will or malice and without fear of political victimization that will allow for the full findings to be delivered without further delay,” Edghill stated.
There were no specified budgetary provisions in the 2015 and 2016 Annual Budgets for the Jubilee D’Urban Park Development Project.”
In April 21, 2016, President David Granger mandated the Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson, to immediately assume full responsibility for the Project.
Public monies – a total of $406.7M – were sought from the Contingency Fund and were approved by the majority in the National Assembly to pay contractors and suppliers of goods and services for work done at the project.
Edghill said that in December 2016, an additional $500M from the Consolidated Fund was sought by the Ministry of Public Infrastructure and approved by the majority.
The People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) has written the Public Procurement Commission (PPC) requesting that it investigate procurement for the project.
According to Edghill, the PPC has shown little interest in pursuing the project.
Private criminal charges of Misconduct in Public Office were filed against the Ministers of Finance, Winston Jordan; Public Infrastructure, David Patterson; and Public Service, Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine in relation to the project. These charges were thrown out by the Director of Public Prosecutions, (DPP).
According to Edghill, while the charges were dismissed, the Ministers were not acquitted.
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