Patterson’s enduring wail for attention is unbecoming – Min. Edghill

Dear Editor,

Please allow me a moment to respond to a letter published in Wednesday’s Stabroek newspaper captioned “At end of November, Public Works Ministry has spent only 51% of its budgeted $88B”

Firstly, the author of the above-mentioned letter has gone to lengths to cast a shadow over the management of the Ministry of Public Works, and as depraved as this is to the hard-working men and women employed under the Ministry, I will oblige my opposition colleague with an answer, yet again.

As stated in the Parliament, there are some big-ticket items where the transactions are to be completed before December 31st, 2022, and what this means is that that will significantly change the percentage of the Public Sector Investment Programme (PSIP), namely:  

-$2.6B approved for the construction of Office Complexes for Government Ministries. This sum represents the mobilization advance payment, which will be paid out before December 31, 2022. This project is awaiting NPTAB approval, after being advertised publicly.

-$21.1B approved for the New Demerara River Bridge, this bid was publicly advertised and the contract was signed in May 2022. This sum will be disbursed before December 31, 2022.

Meanwhile, with regards to the Miscellaneous Roads /Drainage Programme, the following should be noted: the sum of $17.049B was approved by Parliament, and as of December 6th, the sum of $16.297B was disbursed, representing 95.5% expenditure.

The additional sum of $18.1B was approved for the rehabilitation/ construction of community Roads and Drainage works, this sum represents a fraction of what is required to ensure all Guyanese have proper roads and functional drainage. 

Our citizens must know that their government, through the Ministry of Public Works, will continue to award contracts in accordance with the Procurement Act of 2003.

Every effort is also being made to ensure the East Bank Demerara Road between Grove to Timehri and the Soesdyke-Linden Highway is awarded as soon as possible. The loans for these two projects have been approved in the second half of 2022, and as a result, the sum of $4.89B would not be disbursed in 2022.

Now, please bear with me as I address another statement made by Mr. Patterson, this time of compliantly expending budgeted money by the Ministry.

This statement is without basis and substance.

The PPP/C Administration has repeatedly demonstrated and will continue to demonstrate, its transparency in all its engagements and transactions, which is not something that could be said about the previous APNU+AFC Government, to which Mr. Patterson belonged.  

Mr. Patterson, I urged you then and I urge you now, please do not come saint-like uttering folly, when you would have presided over the signing of questionable contracts, and at dubious timings as well. 

Let’s take a look at the Leguan Ferry Stelling, following an audit conducted by the Audit Office of Guyana, it was determined that the contractor was not only incapable and unable to do the job, but also did not possess the wherewithal to successfully execute this $413,259,260 project.

A project, a CONTRACT signed on September 20, 2018, under the leadership of Mr. Patterson, then Minister of Public Infrastructure.

Further, the contractor had received payments totalling $199,435,000, almost 50% of the contract sum, which is an unheard-of occurrence, outside of normal procurement practices, and a breach of the Fiscal Management Accountability Act.

Here, the question of corruption should come to mind, and as if this was not enough, shall we mention the contract to rehabilitate sections of the road leading to St. Cuthbert’s Mission, where work on the $100 million road from the Soesdyke/Linden highway into the community had to be terminated because the contractor could not complete the works.

Another project that raises many questions and is engaging the attention of the police is the procurement of 3 weigh-in-motion scales. 

The audit report of 2021, stated that the sum of $72.264M was paid for the supply and delivery of three motion scales, however, to date, the supplier is yet to deliver the scales as per contract, even after receiving 100% of the contract sum.

Editor, coming into office in August 2020, the PPP/C Administration inherited the most troublesome, wasteful, corrupt, and poorly managed contracts of the then government, which fell under the purview of David Patterson. This is not an accusation, but a fact which The Auditor General’s Report of 2021 supported.

Lastly, with regard to Mr. Patterson’s wail of corrupt and discriminatory practices, this is nothing but a cry for attention, something, unfortunately, I cannot and simply do not have time for.

The Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali Administration’s “One Guyana” initiative is a social contract of inclusion: legislatively, politically, and socially. Its vision is about creating a more equal society, guaranteeing that everyone is afforded the opportunity to lead productive and happy lives, and reducing inequality in access to education, health, employment, income, and justice. Since coming into office, this has been our practice across every sector; ensuring our programmes included everyone and were for the benefit of all citizens.

Our vision for infrastructural modernization will see massive road networks connecting all parts of the country, and this as you know, has already started.

Editor, let this not be a tit-for-tat, as I must get on with the business of the people of Guyana.  

Respectfully,

Bishop Juan Edghill,

Minister of Public Works.  

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