Minister Edghill debunks Opposition ownership of Gov’t projects

Minister of Public Works, Hon. Bishop Juan Edghill has rejected his predecessor’s assertion that the flagship projects under the PPP/C Government were conceptualised, designed and funded during the Coalition’s term in office.

Both former ministers who headed the then Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Hon. David Patterson and Hon. Annette Ferguson, were fact-checked for their statements.

Addressing the National Assembly during the budget debate Friday evening, Minister Edghill clarified that the Sheriff-Mandela road expansion project was conceived prior to the APNU/AFC’s term in office, even though MP Ferguson asserted otherwise.

“Myself and Dr. Ashni Singh had to look at each other and smile. Mr. Speaker, that was a 66 million US dollars IDB loan and I am sure the person would have signed that loan, the signature would be Ashni Kumar Singh,” Minister Edghill said.

Minister of Public Works, Hon. Bishop Juan Edghill

The Minister added that the former administration refashioned the loan, but could not deliver the project and was subsequently ousted from office.

Minister Edghill said his actions since assuming office has brought the project up to speed from the sluggish pace at which it was being implemented.

“The Sheriff Street-Mandela [project] got nine sub-contractors and 19 sites being worked on simultaneously as result of my intervention.”

The Minister also corrected the Opposition claim that the Ogle-Eccles four-lane bypass road originated from them.

The House was reminded that the previous PPP/C Government had secured a US$50 million loan through the Government of India to fund the network between the East Coast Demerara and the East Bank Demerara.

Minister Edghill added that the project was inflated to US$208 million under the Coalition and had to be redesigned so that the nation could benefit from the transformational project.

“The Indian Government representative in Guyana worked on India’s Independence Day to facilitate the PPP/C’s Administration to reformat and get that project going again, and in Budget 2021, monies are allocated because the work will begin in the latter part of this year.”

Moving on to the modernisation of the Cheddi Jagan International Airport that was also falsely claimed, Minister Edghill pointed out that it was Dr. Singh and then Public Works Minister Robeson Benn who inked the agreement in 2011.

Minister Edghill noted that it is the President Ali-led Administration that had to meet the contractor to address many of the shortcoming of the contract the Coalition signed which substantially reduced the scope of the modernisation project.

“When they [the contractor] realised the no-nonsense, pro-people approach of the Irfaan Ali-Administration, where we believe in value for money, where we believe the people of Guyana must get what they are paying for, we have now an amicable settlement.”

That settlement will see the construction of a corridor for two additional air bridges, a new curtain wall, a super structure that will house airline offices and commercial spaces, in addition to other components.

The Public Works Minister held that the $383.1 billion budget will benefit all Guyanese as it is rolled out. The budget debate presentations will conclude on Monday with the Consideration of the Estimates to follow.