Transparency and accountability imperative for public projects – PM Phillips

– Calls for supervisors to do “a better job”

Prime Minister, Brigadier (Ret’d), the Honourable Mark Phillips today emphasised the importance of transparency and accountability in the execution of Government-funded projects.

He made these remarks at a contract-signing ceremony for the construction of a $117m, 6400 square foot, multi-purpose building for the Civil Defence Commission (CDC), which was held at CDC’s headquarters, Thomas lands.

Prime Minister Phillips, who has responsibility for the Commission, charged both the contractors and officials to execute the project in a timely and responsible manner. He said that the objective is not just to complete the building in the estimated 24 months, but to maintain its quality throughout the process.

He made reference to a past project, where senior officials broke the law and allowed substandard performance.

“We need to do a better job at supervising projects to ensure that the Government and people of Guyana derived the benefits.”

The Prime Minister pointed to the findings of the Auditor General’s Report for 2020, which revealed financial breaches and other irregularities in the construction of the CDC office building in 2019, where some $29m were paid for work that was never completed and, in some cases, never started. This resulted in the current Government allocating additional funds to complete the building in the 2021 budget.

“In order for the $29m to be paid to the contractors, senior CDC officials had to sign documents stating that the works were completed, when they knew that the works were not completed and in many cases had never started. So notwithstanding the fact that Government found money to complete the building, these incidents for work that was never done will have to be further investigated.”

DISASTER RISK MANAGEMENT A PRIORITY

The senior government official also took the opportunity to reaffirm the Government’s commitment to ensuring that Guyana adapts a comprehensive approach to disaster risk management.

“If we are to approach disaster management in a comprehensive manner it entails capacity building and investment in infrastructure. And so this is an important project for the management of disaster and the Government has seen it fit to include in this year’s budget funding for this project.”

Prime Minister Phillips also stated that the facility will be a valuable addition to disaster risk management across the country, adding to the long-term efforts of the Commission on Disaster Risk Management Mitigation and Response. It was also announced that multi-purpose facilities, similar to those found in Lethem and Georgetown, will be established throughout Guyana.

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