Feb 27, 2021 News
Kaieteur News – Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh in his 2021 budget speech had announced that government would be allocating an additional $2.5 billion towards the completion of the already US$150 million (and counting) Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA).
The allocation however, did not sit well with former Public Infrastructure Minister and Member of Parliament (MP), David Patterson. During his budget debate presentation yesterday, the MP was quick to point out to the National Assembly that in December last, the Public Works Minister; Juan Edghill revealed that the Chinese contractor, China Harbor Engineering Company (CHEC) had agreed to undertake additional works to the tune of $1.8 billion.
Those works would include two more boarding bridges for large transatlantic aircrafts along with the construction of the superstructure and façade for the new commercial complex which will house additional duty free shops, restaurants, and lounges – all at no cost to the government.
He then questioned “Why are taxpayers footing another bill of $2.5B? After the additional works of the contractor, what will the $2.5B be spent on?”
Dr. Singh had outlined that the new allocation for the further upgrade and modernization of the CJIA will also finance other major improvements including the procurement of the additional two passengers boarding bridges, bringing the total to six boarding bridges, the rehabilitating of the airline and airport administration offices, and the outfitting of the commercial complex.
But instead of expending more of taxpayer dollars into the project, Patterson pointed out that the government could have utilized the bonds retained.
According to Patterson, his Ministry had back in July, 2020 retained two bonds valued at US$14 million, with the larger of the two being a performance bond guaranteeing that CHEC would execute the project to the required standards, otherwise they could cash the bond on demand.
The other bond was a retention guarantee bond, which was a guarantee that the contractor would remedy all defects during the retention period.
However, that period came to an end on December 31, 2020 and according to Patterson, this means that CHEC could walk off site leaving the country losing US$14 million with no other recourse than to seek redress in the courts.
Since taking office, government was having hiccups with CHEC to ensure that the new and modernised airport it was promised, almost a decade ago, was delivered. But Guyanese would have to wait a little longer as the new agreement signed outlined an end date of December 2021.
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