Over $13 Billion allocated to Public Works Ministry in 2022 for development works was unspent -Audit report

Over $13 Billion allocated to Public Works Ministry in 2022 for development works was unspent -Audit report

The Ministry of Public Works was allocated $120.9 Billion in the 2022 budget to advance major development projects throughout Guyana, but at the end of that year, some $13.4B remained unspent, the Audit Office of Guyana has found.

In his report on the Public Accounts of Guyana for 2022, the Auditor General, Deodat Sharma said the Public Works Ministry experienced “varying shortfalls” in the execution a number of projects. 

According to the report, only $99.9M of the more than $2.5B allocated for the reconstruction of the Linden-Soesdyke Highway was used to advance the project.

“It is clear that the ministry was unable to improve the physical infrastructure as intended,” the Auditor General said. 

In explaining the reason behind the shortfall, the Public Works Ministry stated that delays in the loan negotiations with the Islamic Development Bank, resulted in the contract not being signed by the end of the year.

It said in the interim, the Government funded $99.9M in works which included asphaltic paving and other emergency repairs along the highway.    

Similarly, the auditors found that approximately $2.2B was allocated for the construction of the highway from Diamond to Timehri and provision for studies, but only $100M was utilized by the Public Works Ministry.

In its defence, the Public Works Ministry said the loan for the project was only approved by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) in October 2022. It was explained that initially, the Government was funding the entire project, which included extensive repairs to East Bank Demerara Public Road from Grove to Timehri, however, external funding was subsequently sought. 

“In April 2023, tripartite discussions commenced between the Ministry of Finance, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and the Ministry of Public Works for the financing of a loan to rehabilitate the East Bank Public Road from Grove to Timehri. Discussions were completed and on 26 October 2022, the loan was approved by the IDB,” the Public Works Ministry explained in its response. 

It was not until March 2023, that the loan was signed, paving way for the initiation of the tendering process.  

  In the case of the construction of the new four-lane bridge across the Demerara River, the Public Works Ministry received $21.1B to advance the project.

However, though the Appropriation Accounts stated that the full amount was expended in 2022, the Audit Office found that some $12.6B was not expended. 

“Audit checks revealed that amounts totalling $8.3B were expended, while the sum of $12.6B was transferred into the Escrow Account held by at the Bank of Guyana,” the Audit Office said. 

The Audit Office disclosed further that only 7% of the total funds set aside for the Highway Improvement – East Coast Demerara project was spent.

It was explained that a total of $8.5B was budgeted for upgrades to be done to the railway embankment road from Sheriff Street to Enmore, the construction of the railway embankment road from Enmore to Orange Nassau and the construction of a four-lane highway from La Reconnaissance to Mahaica through a loan from the Export-Import Bank of China. However, only $566.3M was expended, resulting in an unspent balance of $8B.  

“An analysis of the figures revealed that the expenditure for the year amounted to only seven percent of the total funds available. Further, the Ministry spent only $566.3M from the initial allotment of $1.3B. Therefore, the reasons were unclear as to why the ministry requested additional funds of $7.2B when only 43% of the initial allotment was utilized,” the Audit Office said. 

Other shortfalls were recorded in the Linden-Mabura Road Upgrade Project and the Eccles-Timehri Road Project among others. 

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