– AG to review forensic audit into $1B Kato Secondary School
“NOTHING short of criminal,” were the words used by government minister Raphael Trotman to explain the recommendations of a recent forensic audit in the Kato Secondary School complex built under the former People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) administration. The facility is located in Region Eight (Potaro/Siparuni), and was built as a self-sustaining facility complete with living quarters, an administrative block, and teachers’ facilities.
Cabinet recently received a report of the school’s forensic audit from Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson. Rodrigues Architects Limited, the firm contracted to do the audit, conducted a structural assessment, building defects, and the contracting process for the $1B school.
Trotman told the press corps on Thursday at a post-cabinet press briefing that a number of discrepancies were highlighted in all of the sections audited. He alluded to comments from the forensic auditor’s report which called into question the designer, consultant, and contractor of the secondary school project, “as well as the cost of remedial works if we are to undertake them.”
Cabinet, according to Trotman, has since requested Attorney General Basil Williams to review the forensic audit report in order “to determine culpability and to advise on the appropriate actions to be taken.”
A number of forensic audits have been conducted and there have been recommendations for criminal proceedings, but the State is still to proceed with those recommendations.
Trotman said that the Police Force, Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) and the Director of Public Prosecution’s office have all been overwhelmed by the findings of the forensic audits ordered since the David Granger administration came to office.
Trotman said these agencies “lack capacities to deal with all of these.” He said Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan will consult with Minister within the Finance Ministry, Jaipaul Sharma, to go through the findings of the forensic audits.
Sharma was tasked as government’s chief official leading the forensic audits. Trotman said in due time, the press corps will not only be invited to view the Kato Secondary School report, but will also be invited to visit the site.
Cabinet Secretary Joseph Harmon said some time ago that the school was deemed unsafe for children by this current administration. The school was expected to be opened in January of this year, as the Education Ministry’s Chief Education Officer, Olato Sam said the facility was being furnished.
The facility has not yet been occupied, since it had failed a number of structural tests done on the building materials used.