Contractors footing bill for ongoing CJIA, specialty hospital works – Luncheon

Works currently being undertaken at both the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA), Timehri and the Specialty Hospital at Turkeyen are being done from “out of pocket monies” by the respective contractors, according to Head of the Presidential Secretariat Dr. Roger Luncheon.

Luncheon also assured that repayments would be made soon but would not go into detail as to when and how.

“Everything they have to subscribe to with their own money… All of the people who are currently not being paid for works being done and continuing to work have a reasonable expectation to be paid and we will honour that obligation,” Luncheon said.

He was at the time responding to questions about where the funding for additional works to the CJIA and the Specialty Hospital was coming from since the projects failed to win approval during the consideration of the budget estimates earlier in the year.

The parliamentary opposition has also questioned the source of the funding as works seemed to be going ahead although the allocations for the projects were rejected by them.

During this year’s consideration of the budget estimates, the opposition voted down a $1.3 billion allocation for the health sector that included $910M financing for the specialty hospital at Turkeyen. The opposition had also vetoed last year’s proposals of $1.25B.

At the December 12, 2013 sitting of the National Assembly, government managed to secure approval of $34.4M for the specialty hospital project owing to the absence of APNU member Volda Lawrence during the crucial vote. This paved the way for foundation works for the hospital to commence in January this year, for which BK International was hired by Surendra Engineering.

However, the works appear to have gone much further.

“We are going to be submitting questions to our parliament to find out where money is coming from for all that work that is going on up there because that is not $35M in works …it is coming from (government holding company) NICIL or someplace unknown,” was AFC leader Khemraj Ram-jattan’s response last month on works being done at the specialty hospital.

Some $6.5B was also cut for the CJIA expansion this year. The sum, which fell under the heading “Transport,” was part of the $22.3 billion allocation for the sector in the proposed $220 billion budget.

Main opposition APNU had pointed to the government’s lack of dialogue on the opposition’s concerns that the formulation of both deals were not transparent.

China Harbour Engine-ering Company (CHEC) is executing the CJIA expansion and it too has gone far ahead with works.

According to the Government Information Agency (GINA), the project is set to meet its August 2015 deadline and this was relayed to President Donald Ramotar during a tour of the airport project earlier this year.

Luncheon yesterday said that the projects were going ahead as stoppage now runs the risk of many financial losses to interest on principal borrowed and contractual obligations. “Contractual arrangements were made with the firms…there is a turning back, but the cost,” he lamented.

He made reference to Trinidad and Tobago and he pointed out that the country was left to pay off debts owed from projects when it transitioned from the Patrick Manning government and he said Guyana did not want the same fate.

Questioned about the change of government in India and its effects on the specialty hospital funding, Luncheon explained, “The engagement is with the Exim Bank, it’s not with the government of India….”

Asked if the current review by the Exim Bank of India resulted in a retender what would happen, he answered, “I don’t believe that the Exim Bank is unaware that solid contractual engagements have been entered into.

So apart from a review process, the results, if it leads to such dire straits, somebody got to start thinking how to do it how to disengage… it’s not as easy as we want to think .”

Luncheon also likened himself and other employees of the Office of the President to the contractors, saying that they were working although monies were cut for them in this year’s budget but he maintained that their “agony” will end soon.

“There is a strong feeling that we gon get paid… the agony will be over and not through death but by payment,” he said.

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