Edghill asks procurement commission to probe D’Urban Park project
PPP/C parliamentarian Juan Edghill has written the Chairman of the Public Procurement Commission (PPC) Carol Corbin to request an investigation into the award of contracts and the use of public funds for the D’Urban Park Development Project.
Edghill’s letter followed another last week to the PPC seeking an investigation into the controversial Charlestown bond contract to Larry Singh, and another by fellow PPP/C parliamentarian Gail Teixeira requesting an investigation of the award of the contract for the consultancy for the feasibility study and design for the new Demerara River crossing.
The more than one billion dollars spent on the D’Urban Park project has not only raised concerns about the expenditure but the circumstances under which goods and services were supplied to the project, which was one of the earliest undertaken by the APNU+AFC administration. It appeared to have proceeded without any tendering and the shoddy construction work that was uncovered at the venue put the project under intense scrutiny. Public monies had to be spent to repair the poor work.
Very little paperwork has been presented by the government on the project and sums are said to be still outstanding to some suppliers.
In his letter to Corbin, which was dispatched last Tuesday, Edghill noted that the project was announced to be a privately financed undertaking, with the development commencing in September, 2015, in preparation for the hosting of the 50th Independence Anniversary celebrations. “The National Assembly was informed that this project would be funded by private individuals through an unnamed private organization, and, that this project would be no drain on the public purse,” he said, while noting that there were no specified budgetary provisions in the 2015 and 2016 national budgets for the project.
However, he said in April, 2016, President David Granger mandated the Minister of Public Infrastructure to immediately assume full responsibility for the project and in November, 2016, a total of $406.7 million in public funds was sought and approved by government from the Contingency Fund to pay contractors and suppliers of goods and services for work done at the project.
In December, 2016, he added, a further $500 million was sought and approved for the project from the Contingency Fund.
“We were told in the Committee of Supply of the National Assembly that the sums approved would be given to the Homestretch Development Inc. (HDI), a special purpose company, to honour its financial obligations to contractors and suppliers,” he said, while noting that it was on that occasion that the name of the company was made public.
HDI was registered on January 22, 2016.
Edghill noted that from September, 2015 to January, 2016, there was no account of the money collected, who collected it, who authorised the collection, or how it was spent. He said while government had promised to account for the donations received, this was not done.
An aerial view of Durban Park (Stabroek News file photo)