–contractor allowed to walk away with millions of dollars
MORE information continues to point to corrupt practices under the APNU+AFC regime, as the Auditor-General (AG), Deodat Sharma has exposed several questionable deals that have cost taxpayers several millions of dollars.
One of many such cases highlighted in the AG’s 2021 report relates to the upgrade of portions of the East Coast Demerara (ECD) road.
In the first case highlighted by the AG, the sum of $100 million was overpaid on the contract for the upgrading of the road from La Bonne Intention (LBI) to Beterverwagting, ECD.
According to the AG’s report, the total sum overpaid by the APNU+AFC administration was $120.683 million, of which sum, $20.683 million was repaid by the contractor.
Budget officials within the then Ministry of Public Works have stated that reminder letters were sent to the contractor in February of 2019 and January of 2020. However, there have not been any additional recoveries during the reporting period.
“Therefore, the Contractor’s indebtedness remains at $100M,” the AG report stated.
However, the AG report pointed out that based on an agreement, dated 20 May 2021, between the contracting firm and the Government of Guyana, Section 1.5 states: “… various Ministries & Departments and servants/agents shall forebear from taking any steps to recover monies, debts and liabilities of the company until the expiry of seven years from the date hereof.”
Further, the AG flagged the sum of $112 million overpaid on the contract for the upgrading of the road from Beterverwagting to Triumph, also on the ECD.
According to the AG’s report, the total sum overpaid was $132.649 million, of which, $20.649 million was repaid by the contractor.
The Head of Budget Agency had stated that the contractor was written to make restitution of outstanding debt on September 11, 2019 and January 29, 2020. However, no response has been received to date.
According to the AG’s report, the Head of Budget stated that despite a reminder letter being sent to the contractor in January 2020, there has been no further recoveries for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2021.
“Therefore, the Contractor’s indebtedness remains at $112 million,” the AG report stated.
In this instance as well, the agreement between the government and contractors dated May 20, 2021 underscores: “Various ministries & departments and servants/agents shall forebear from taking any steps to recover monies, debts and liabilities of the company until the expiry of seven years from the date hereof.”
The AG report also mentions that the sum of $14.806 million, which was advanced to a contractor for the upgrading of the highway from Triumph to Mon Repos also on the ECD, was still not recovered.
According to the AG, the advance payment bond expired on December 12 2015 while, the performance bond which covered $32.892 million, also expired in December 2015.
The Head of Budget Agency had stated that the company was dissolved and advice was sought from the Ministry of Legal Affairs.
During investigation, the AG found that the contracting company was dissolved and the company won judgement in the matter, thus making the collection of $14.806 million a virtual impossibility.