Asphalt Plant management should be held accountable

− report recommends

The management of the Demerara Harbour Bridge Corporation’s Asphalt Plant has been deemedculpable for not ensuring the Plant was properly controlled and efficiently managed.  

Minister of Public Works, Hon. Bishop Juan Edghill holds a copy of The Asphalt Plant Report while Minister within the Ministry of Public Works, Hon. Deodat Indar looks on.

As a result, recommendations are being made for the agency’s management to be penalised, as the board sees appropriate. This is contained in The Asphalt Plant Report submitted to Minister of Public Works, Hon. Bishop Juan Edghill, by accounting firm Chateram Ramdihal Chartered Accountants on Wednesday.

“We must determine culpability and appropriate penalty to be meted out to those involved. As mentioned, due to lack of internal controls, we were unable to determine whether the allegation is accurate. However, based on observations and lack of internal controls the allegation is possible.”

The allegation being referred to in the report, is one made in a newspaper article dated September 22, 2020, which alleged that contractors working on government projects were mandated to take their asphalt from the Garden of Eden Plant in order to facilitate an alleged scam where huge discounts were said to be given to contractors.

“It is alleged that the scam is facilitated where the Ministry of Public Works would order a certain amount from the Plant to be billed to the Ministry however, they would have collected less resulting in the difference being sold at a discount to contractors,” the Report stated in its conclusion.

The accounting firm was tasked with investigating the financial and operational management of the Asphalt Plant for the period 2013 to date. Minister, Hon. Bishop Juan Edghill in an earlier interview noted his concern over the allegation which implicated staff of the agency which falls under his Ministry’s purview.     

On Wednesday he reiterated that systems must be followed.

“Internal control must be followed… This is a serious matter… There is absolutely nothing wrong when you see something going wrong to raise a finger and say this shall not continue, whoever is the whistle blower that went to the media that spur this investigation, I never got a chance to get a name or meet the person, but let me thank you for your national service and patriotism.”  

Meanwhile, the report also recommends that the Asphalt Plant’s management ensure the policies of the Plant are adhered to at all times, for a good credit policy to be established to remain competitive and maximise returns, and for customers to be assessed at set intervals to determine maximum credit to be given. Gifts to staff must also be given in accordance with generally accepted principles.

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