Public Infrastructure Ministry sets the record straight

surprised by contents of an article under headline “Audit Office still awaiting a response from Infrastructure Ministry on D’Urban Park’s spending”

─ the report was hand-delivered to the Audit Office on Tuesday, January 29, 2019, and signed for by one D. James

the ministry had no responsibility for expenditure relating to D’Urban Park Project before April 9, 2016

on April 9, 2016, the ministry was given directive to complete the project after works were behind schedule

─ “the ministry delivered ALL vouchers requested by the Audit Office with relevant schedules for scrutiny. However, if it is required, the ministry could provide additional information upon request”

DPI, Guyana, Thursday, February 7, 2019

The Ministry of Public Infrastructure today said it is very surprised by the contents of an article appearing in the Sunday, February 3, 2019 edition of Stabroek News under the headline “Audit Office still awaiting a response from Infrastructure Ministry on D’Urban Park’s spending,” and has sought to set the record straight.

According to a letter to the press today, the ministry recalled that on Friday, December 7, 2018, the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary received a Draft Audit Report from the Audit Office concerning a special assessment into funds utilised for the construction of the Durban Park Development Project. The ministry was asked to respond within 30 days.

Subsequently, the ministry requested an extension since staff members were preparing for its budget presentation in the National Assembly last December. The extension was subsequently granted by the Auditor General.

It said the report was hand-delivered to the Audit Office on Tuesday, January 29, 2019, and signed for by one D. James. A copy of the acknowledgement is attached for ease of reference.

“It is with deep regret that the Audit Office did not consult with the Permanent Secretary and other relevant personnel within the Ministry of Public Infrastructure. It should be noted that the Audit Office of Guyana had signed for and collected eighty-three (83) vouchers relating to D’Urban Park Project in January and February 2017 but to date, none has been returned,” the letter said.

According to the ministry, the documents appeared to be the main source of information in the conduct of the audit and the eventual submission of the report more than two years after the documents were initially collected.

“This indicated that the audit took almost two (2) years to complete, but the ministry was never meaningfully engaged to offer explanations,” the ministry stated in a letter published today in the Kaieteur News.

According to the letter, the responsibility for expenditure under the purview of Homestretch Development Incorporated (HDI), as well as funds paid through the “Lotto Fund” were ascribed to the ministry. Due diligence checks, it said, clearly outlined the distinction between the two entities and the responsible agency for the Lotto Fund payments. It noted that the ministry had no responsibility for expenditure relating to D’Urban Park Project before April 9, 2016.

It was on April 9, 2016, that the ministry was given the directive to complete the project after it was observed that the works were behind schedule.

It noted too that the ministry was not responsible for any expenditure before that date, which originated from the Lotto Fund and Homestretch Development Incorporated.

“Notwithstanding, the ministry delivered ALL vouchers requested by the Audit Office with relevant schedules for scrutiny. However, if it is required, the ministry could provide additional information upon request,” the letter said.

Alexis Rodney.

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