Gov’t warns on contract overpayments, extortion

Minister of Local Govern-ment and Regional Develop-ment Ganga Persaud has warned again of government’s zero-tolerance of overpayments on contracts, signing off on substandard work and extortion.

He was speaking at the Regional Engineers Depart-ment and Works Committee Workshop held on Wednes-day at the Guyana Inter-national Conference Centre.

Ganga Persaud
Ganga Persaud

The objective of the workshop was to foster more synergy between the Regional Engineers Department and the Works Committee, and subsequently reduce the incidences of payments being made for incomplete work, a Government Information Agency (GINA) report said.

According to Persaud, for quite some time the two bodies have engaged in a “blame game” regarding payments being made for unfinished work. Further, he noted that “year after year” the Auditor General has found overpayment in all 10 Administrative Regions.

“Overpayment in this regard, does not mean that the Regional Executive Officer (REO) approved payments in excess of the contracted sum; but rather, it means that what was paid for was not completely executed,” Persaud explained.

The minister said he is currently compiling information that he has received on incidences of extortion at the Works Department in Region 10 and will soon submit same to the police. He further advised elected and appointed officials from the Regional Democratic Councils that if their salaries are inadequate they should find alternatives to supplement it instead of resorting to extortion.

“Don’t attempt to fleece the contractors; when you try to extort from contractors, it is the quality of work that suffers, and it is the taxpayers’ dollars that is poorly spent,” Persaud said.

With regards to complaints about substandard work, Persaud said representatives from the political parties form the Works Committee and they are tasked with ensuring that work is done satisfactorily before signing the final certificate and recommending the final payment, which is then approved by the REO.

“It seems that this fact is lost on the political leaders of this country and so we seek to beat up on the appointed officials and as elected officials, we position ourselves as though we had no relationship with regards to these payments,” the minister said.

Part of the gathering at the workshop (GINA photo)
Part of the gathering at the workshop (GINA photo)

He also noted that a number of delinquencies have been occurring at the Works Department, including the drafting of bills of quantities without finalising designs, constructing buildings without making provisions for the installation of doors and windows, and using bills of quantities that are not reflective of the scope of work. Persaud reprimanded the REOs for not imposing sanctions on errant regional engineers, overseers and superintendents.

Meanwhile, Minister within the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development, Norman Whittaker, said the workshop must be seen as an investment in human capital. He said every year, government invests millions of dollars across the 10 regions to train, retool and regroup departments and personnel to improve the level of services that citizens, as taxpayers, are entitled to.

“This workshop, no doubt, gives recognition to the fact that life is not static, we undergo changes. The people’s needs today and the people’s needs tomorrow will change…the higher the demand will be for better quality of service and we have to ensure that we deliver to the satisfaction of the people,” he said.

GINA said participants in the workshop will also benefit from a session with representatives from the Auditor General’s office to specifically address the issue of overpayment, as well as discussions on the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act with emphasis on budget preparation.

The annual reports by the Auditor General have been crammed over the years with instances of contract overpayments, substandard and unfinished works and tender breaches. As a result the government has come under pressure to explain why its Local Government Ministry has not had more success with the regional officers.

More in Local News

Renee McDonald

Chair of Bid Protest Committee resigns

Chairperson of the recently-established Bid Protest Committee (BPC) Renee McDonald has resigned even as the body’s first case—Cevons Waste Management’s protest against the Ministry of Communities over the award of a $221M Haags Bosch landfill maintenance contract—awaits a decision.

default placeholder

Main suspect in Black Bush triple murder held, owns shotgun

The main suspect in the Black Bush triple murder has been held and he is the owner of the same type of weapon that inflicted the deadly wounds.

Shane Mc Almont

Two charged with killing missing miner

Just two days after severed body parts suspected to belong to Mahdia miner Shawn Clarke were discovered, two men were charged in a city court with his murder.

default placeholder

Ferry collides with Supenaam stelling

The ferry,  Sabanto  suffered extensive damage after it collided with the Supenaam Stelling last evening and will be out of service until further notice.

Darnell Matthew

Three hospitalised after driver hits visiting St Lucian scouts

A visiting St. Lucian Cub Scout has been critically injured, while another and his mother escaped with minor injuries after they were struck by a car yesterday afternoon near the Scout Association of Guyana headquarters at Woolford Avenue.

Nafeeza Mohammed

Bush Lot woman accused of trafficking teen for prostitution

A Bush Lot woman was yesterday charged with trafficking a teenaged girl for prostitution. It was alleged that    shop owner Nafeeza Mohammed, of Lot 17 Bush Lot, Essequibo Coast, between April 26 and May 31, in Region One, received, transported and harboured the teen for the purpose of sexual exploitation.


About these comments

The comments section is intended to provide a forum for reasoned and reasonable debate on the newspaper's content and is an extension of the newspaper and what it has become well known for over its history: accuracy, balance and fairness. We reserve the right to edit or delete comments which contain attacks on other users, slander, coarse language and profanity, and gratuitous and incendiary references to race and ethnicity.

Stay updated! Follow Stabroek News on Facebook or Twitter.

Get the day's headlines from SN in your inbox every morning: