The Opposition People’s Progressive Party, wants the Auditor General’s Office to probe the Durban Park project, following revelations that an additional $500 million will be taken from the public’s purse to pay off contractors who are still owed for works done on the project.
An additional $500M has been budgeted for the Ministry of Public Infrastructure to pay for outstanding works on the controversial D’urban Park.
Opposition MP, Juan Edghill grilled Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson on Wednesday as the 2017 Budget Estimates consideration continued.
Patterson, was asked to indicate who will be paid, how much they will be paid and for what they will be paid for.
He revealed that on November 22 of this year, the Home Stretch Development Inc had written the Finance Ministry seeking help with funds owed to various individuals and companies that had provided services and material to the project while under the belief that it was a government project.
Among contributors to the project, the Minister listed Baishanlin, Courtney Benn Contracting, BK International, Palm Court, National Hardware, Buxton Gas Station, and Puran Brothers as being among donors.
The total sum of $60 Million was garnered from donors in the form of cash and materials.
He noted that the company had provided an audited report which showed the breakdown of the donations it collected. The donations were $27.7M in cash donations while other contributions were made to the value of $33.9M
The Minister continued that following discussions with the company, it was decided that $500M will be given to offset its liabilities. He validated the move by stating that it is felt that the project was a “national product” of the country and the facility belongs to the country and the people of Guyana.
In addressing the persons/companies owed, the Minister listed the following; Chang’s Global, Dray’s Land Preparation ($426M), Nabi Construction ($81.8M), Car Care Enterprise ($53.8M), Ambrose Construction ($6.8M), McKoy’s Construction ($6M) and Barama ($27.8M).
Following this disclosure, MP Bishop Edghill questioned whether “a project that from all estimations cost $900M of taxpayers money plus $60M in cash and all kinds of donations” could be described as a private project.
At this, Minister Patterson stated that he did not understand the question.
Bishop Edghill further inquired behind the procurement processes that was used to engage persons, at which the Minister again said that he did not understand the question.
Minister Patterson further pointed out that his Ministry will not be paying the persons owed, even though the $500M sum is allocated under his Ministry.
He noted that instead, it would be the company, HDI, that would be paying the debts.
In a statement following the revelations, The opposition PPP/C said it views with disgust and outrage the Granger- led APNU+AFC government “raiding the treasury of an additional $500 million for the controversial Durban Park Jubilee project.”
The party said it is important to note that out of an expenditure of over one billion dollars, only twenty seven million (M$27) was received in cash donations and thirty-three million dollars was received in “kind” donations.
It said “the Ministry of Public Infrastructure has allowed itself to be used as a conduit to accommodate this highly irregular and vulgar transaction”.