Prison upheaval triggers request for $756M in supplementary funds

This month’s destruction of the Camp Street jail and escapes from that facility and the Lusignan prison have triggered a request by government for $756.1 million in supplementary funds.

Contained in Financial Paper No. 2, tabled in the National Assembly on Thursday, the request underlines the cost to the economy as a result of the government’s failure to maintain order at the two facilities.

On Thursday, Finance Minister Winston Jordan laid a Schedule of Supplementary Provision on the Current and Capital Estimates totalling $2,514,679,330 for the period January to December, 2017. This is the second such application in recent times, with the House having approved $6.395 billion in supplementary spending three weeks ago.

This most recent application, which will be debated on August 3, includes some $756 million for the construction and rehabilitation of buildings within the prison system.  By comparison, the voted provision for all prison buildings for the entire year was $537.5 million.

Winston Jordan

The Ministry of Public Security has applied for $69 million in funds for the construction of temporary holding facilities at the Lusignan Prison Compound, which housed prisoners after the July 9th destruction of the Camp Street prison. The ministry is also seeking $46 million for the cleanup of the Camp Street Prison site and $21 million for the refurbishment of its lone standing dormitory.

Additionally, approval is being sought for a total of $466.5 million in spending for the construction of a series of buildings within the Camp Street prison complex.  This includes $144 million for the construction of an administrative building, $62 million for the installation of the security system, $40 million for a kitchen and infirmary, $28 million for a medical centre, $75 million for a solitary confinement block, $62 million for general works on external areas, $18 million for a fire suppression system, $10 million in plumbing, $8.5 million for electrical works and $19 million in contingency funds.

Meanwhile, the schedule also provides for $8.8 million in office equipment and furniture for the recently established National Anti-Narcotic Agency.

Also under capital expenses is a $98.3 million request from the Ministry of Health for the purchase of a Mammography system for the Georgetown Public Hospital and a plateletpheresis machine for the National Blood Bank.  The cost of the plateletpheresis machine – which collects platelets for blood clotting – was underestimated by $12.2 million. Only $1.8 million was budgeted.

Infrastructure spending requests

The Ministry of Public Infrastructure, which received $6 billion in supplemental financing three weeks ago, has asked the House to approve an additional $520 million in capital expenditure.

This includes $100 million for the rehabilitation of the MV Sandaka. The MV Sandaka work had been budgeted at $100 million but it ended up costing $291 million. The ministry noted that MARAD and the MV Canawaima were able to offset this difference of $191 million by $91 million, so there still exists a $100 million gap. Works are expected to take three months. The paper also explain that the previous Approved Supplementary Provision under this line item in the sum of $75,032,626 was for the final payment for the rehabilitating of MV Lady Northcote.

Other spending requests under this ministry includes $120 million for bridges and $300 million for sea and river defence works.

The bridge located on the Bagotville Main Public Road has been identified for reconstruction and critical rehabilitation works. This will encompass $30.2 million in preparatory works for a bypass road through Parfaite Harmonie, $43.9 million for the bridge’s substructure, $39 million for the superstructure and $6.9 million in miscellaneous works.

Further, 600 metres and 200 metres of sea defences along critical sections of the coastline at Rotterdam-Ruimzigt, West Coast Demerara and at Cottage, Mahaicony are to be designed and constructed.

According to the schedule, these works are intended to promote climate change resilience through the improvement of flood protection infrastructure along vulnerable low-lying coastal areas since the mangrove growth along Rotterdam-Ruimzigt, has degraded and there is an imminent threat of a breach of the embankment. The foreshore in this area has reached unprecedented elevation, resulting in intense hydraulic loading and substantial loss of mangrove forests.

At Cottage, there is a total loss of the mangrove forest and there is overtopping resulting in saline water intruding into connecting canals affecting farmlands. Additionally, the Cottage sluice is vulnerable to erosion and under threat of being undermined, which would eventually compromise the integrity of the structure.

Approval has also been requested for emergency and unbudgeted spending in the ministries of Legal Affairs, Agriculture, Business and various constitutional agencies.

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