The opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) yesterday said that it had received the correct names of the directors of the company involved in the controversial D’Urban Park Development Project (DPDP) and Minister of Education, Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine is listed as one of them.
This was following a motion that the Parliamentary opposition moved in Parliament on Monday calling on government to make a full disclosure of the costs, individuals and private organisations that were involved in the project from its inception up to the April, 2016 takeover by the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson.
At the Parliamentary Opposition’s weekly press conference yesterday, opposition Chief Whip, Gail Teixeira said Patterson had not mentioned Roopnaraine’s name during the debate in Parliament. Roopnaraine had been scheduled to make a presentation on the motion but in the end ceded his position to Patterson. Given his directorship of the company, his presentation could have been interesting as he would have been expected to declare from the outset his role with the company.
Patterson had told the House that in its first phase the project was funded and managed by the private company, Homestretch Development Incorporated (HDI) owned by L London, B Ram, G Miller and B Wilson.
The full names on the Articles of Incorporation are Lawrence (Larry) Wilson, Bobita Ram, Victor Wilson and Gentian Miller.
Teixeira viewed the parliament session on Monday evening as “revealing even when the information that was provided” on the project was “extraordinarily limited.”
According to her, even though Patterson said that HDI ran the project, interestingly, it was incorporated on January 22, 2016, three months after the DPDP commenced.
The public was informed that the project was for the 50th Independence Anniversary flag-raising and that it would be funded by private donations and not from the government’s treasury.
She said too that Patterson named the company as being involved in developing and managing project and that it was raising money and was not required to account to the parliament or the public.
Juan Edghill, PPP/C MP, also present at the press conference, said the motion was tabled to ensure that there is full accountability of the disclosure and to allow the government to fulfill its conditions of transparency.
He said too: “If the government was interested of providing the information, it was there in the house in the person of Roopnaraine, a director who was intimately involved.”
MP, Irfaan Ali questioned if there was an account set up for donations towards the project, who were the signatories and which bank it was going to.
Minister of State Joseph Harmon was also silent on the motion though it had been reported that first phase of the project had been executed by the Ministry of the Presidency through the National Commemoration Commission.
The concerns over the DPDP relate to accountability for financing and the quality of works. Given that this was a state project, observers said any collections by the company and donations made to it should have been carefully documented and made public. Slipshod work was done on the project by HDI necessitating its takeover by the Ministry of Public Infrastructure. Observers say the company should have been held financially liable for this poor work which had to be remedied and completed with large sums of taxpayers’ money. There is also no information on the terms under which HDI began the project and whether it had been paid a fee for this. Observers say it is also problematic that a job which was not tendered for by the government was given to a company in which a sitting government minister is a director.