Jan 06, 2021 News
Damning audit findings into the state-owned asphalt plant…
Kaieteur News – Former Minister of Public Works, David Patterson, is accusing the Audit Office of omitting or selectively examining the records, as it regards the alleged racket at the state-owned asphalt plant at Garden of Eden, East Bank Demerara.
His comments come on the heels of damning revelations from an audit into the operations of the asphalt plant controlled by the Demerara Harbour Bridge (DHB) management.
The audit revealed among other things, poor supervision of the costs and corrupt practices associated with purchasing materials from the plant.
As a result, the former Minister under whose purview the plant fell, noted in comments on his Facebook page, that while he has no doubt about the professionalism of the members of the audit team, the report was commissioned to examine the functioning of the asphalt plant from 2015. Patterson emphasized on what he termed glaring oversights by the investigating team on matters concerning the asphalt plant.
He noted the report only targeted the period for which the A Partnership for National Unity +Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) was in governance, 2015-2020.
He stressed it is therefore not surprising that the team found no records for 2013 and 2014. The former Minister noted that the board members of 2013 – 2014 are a matter of public record, yet there is no evidence that the audit team contacted these members to ascertain why no records were available during their tenure.
Additionally, he noted that DHB is audited every year, the report is laid in the Parliament, and that the auditing firm is appointed by none other than the Auditor General of Guyana, Deodat Sharma (not DHB or the Minister). Yet, Patterson argued, none of these issues were highlighted in the publicly available financial reports, which would have served as a red flag to the board, management and ministry.
Further, Patterson disclosed that in 2015, the Guyana Institute of Accountants was requested to submit a representative to sit on the DHB board.
He explained that their nominee, “a very professional young female accountant should be given kudos for instituting and implementing systems from scratch.”
Acknowledging as the report stated, that the systems could be strengthened, Patterson pointed out that no reference was made that this was a work in progress.
On the question of the procurement and payment to the supplier of the cold mix before the company was established, the former Minister said, that the management and Board needed to address this matter.
Patterson explained that cold mix asphalt has been around since the 1830s – it has been used extensively worldwide since the time. It is as its name suggest, the alternative to hot mix (asphaltic concrete), and it is used extensively as a solution, particularly during the rainy season when most potholes develop.
With regards to findings of the report, which said that payments was made to a Trinidad company even before it was registered, Patterson said that it would be interesting to find out what name the cheque was issued, since it is claimed that the company received the cheque before it was registered.
In this regard, the Minister said: “With the anti-money laundering laws, it is would be impossible to cash a cheque without a bank account, if it was written in a company name.”
Additionally, Patterson claimed that while not included in the audit report – articles about the new asphalt plant not being operational are not true.
He said that he has been reliably informed that the plant is fully functional.
Meanwhile, concerning the purchase of the $897,000 gold band for General Manager of the Demerara Harbour Bridge (DHB), Rawlston Adams, using funds from the company, Patterson said Adams should be deemed “innocent until proven guilty.”
According to him, the management, in particular the GM needs to provide a solid response to this issue, including the circumstances and decision-making process behind this procurement. He expressed confidence that the DHB team will provide a full and frank response.
At the interim, the former Minister said that the DHB has been operational for over 40 years, the challenge to keep it afloat is widely published, and the management and staff of DHB should be congratulated and encouraged for their efforts in ensuring that 18,000 vehicles and 20 ocean-going vessels access the bridge daily.
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