Suriname MPs demand more details on questionable Chinese contract

(de Ware Tijd) PARAMARIBO – Parliament and society are interested in the details on the contract the government signed last year with a Chinese housing firm. The US$4 million contract with Broad Homes Industrial International involves the construction of 150 homes at Okrodam in the Weg naar Zee area.

‘The terms of the contract and the facilities the government offers the foreign company are questionable,’ legislator Asiskumar Gajadien (NF/VHP) says. Next to tax exemptions, like duty-free import of materials and equipment the Chinese firm allegedly received 40 percent of the sum in advance. ‘The worst part is that the contract has been signed without a tender. Although the houses will be built at competitive prices, the government has offered the Chinese an additional ten hectares to build its own houses for commercial purposes. That’s a double benefit to the foreigners,’ Gajadien says.

Despite the duty-free import measure had not been imposed yet back in 2013, the company was still granted the right. The politician claims the company has used this benefit to import material for over 150 houses. Minister of Public Works (OW), Rabin Parmessar, confirms the contract. The government bought 20 hectares from private owners at Okrodam, ten of which were granted to the Chinese contractor for its own commercial project. Gajadien sent a letter to the president requesting answers on the deal. The politician wants to know whether the government took a loan for the project. ‘If the government took a loan, let them explain at what institution and under which terms.’ Gajadien also wonders if the loan is registered at the Suriname Debt Management Office and the Audit Office. To him it is incomprehensible the government would grant a tax exemption on goods, which value exceed the agreed sum in the contract. Minister Parmessar signed for the advance on the contract, yet he referred de Ware Tijd to Etienne Boerenveen, the president’s housing initiator. Gajadien cannot understand why the Chinese have been granted so many benefits including the 10 hectares in land, while the deal calls for building houses at the competitive price of US$ 400 per sq. meter.

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