Over the previous seven months, the Ministry of Communities has been able to spend $2.2 billion or 29% of its 2017 budget, with water identified as the sector lagging behind the most.
According to subject Minister Ronald Bulkan, the underperformance was in part due to “excessive delays in the award of contracts,” which have since been addressed. Speaking at the ministry’s Mid Term Review, held at the Regency Hotel yesterday, Bulkan explained that despite these setbacks, it is expected that the entire programme would be been implemented by November.
According to the report given at the review, while $2.1 billion has been budgeted in the water sector, only $232 million has been spent.
Guyana Water Inc (GWI) Managing Director Dr Richard Van West-Charles explained that the larger component of the water programme is funded by the European Union (EU) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and as a result there are more requirements that have to be satisfied for the disbursement of funding.
The major programme objectives as explained by him are the construction of three water treatment plants at Uitvlugt, Diamond and Sheet Anchor and the delivery to the outlying regions of the same quality of water as that which is accessed on the coast.
He stressed that though the process of tendering for the construction of the plants began in February, 2016, issues within the procurement system contributed to the need for re-tendering, after which the award was sent to the donor agencies and Cabinet for no-objections.
These no-objections have been received and GWI is waiting on the awardee to comply with certain financial requirement, such as deposit a bond.
“My last communication was that the awardee has asked for an extension to August. As soon as that’s in place all other systems are go,” Van West-Charles said.
Another programme which has seen minimal expenditure is the local government system, where $1.3 billion was budgeted. In the first seven months of the year, only $490.2 million of that sum has been spent by the 71 Local Government Authorities (LGAs). Asked to provide details about which LGA have received subventions and have been able to access same, Bulkan noted that at least 70 of the LGAs have received 50% of their budgeted subventions, with the other 50% to be disbursed based on the LGAs’ compliance with specific performance indicators, as stipulated in the Fiscal Transfers Act.
According to Clause 6 (1) of the Fiscal Transfers Act: “The annual subvention or fiscal transfers, from central government to local authorities shall be based primarily on a set of conditions and stipulated performance indicators so as to form an aggregate sum referred to in the Schedule.”
It was also reported that, $26.9 million has so far been spent in the housing sector while $100 million was budgeted.