Region Two contractors not directed to project sites, paid in timely fashion

Dear Editor,

This letter follows a public angry outburst by a contractor and the revelation that contractors with more than 25 million in capital projects, have not been directed to their project sites to commence work as at September 2, 2017, more than one month after the contracts have been signed. This situation not only results in a slowdown of the project implementation programme, but also an unfair delay in payments which can cripple some contractors. Small contractors who do not have strong credit relationships are particularly vulnerable.

The Region’s implementation, and by extension, project completion determines its development. To understand this reasoning, consider the chain of events that takes place in the project cycle. When contractors are taken to their projects late, project execution is late, payments to contractors are late, workers are not paid promptly or cheap unskilled workers may have to be employed, and perhaps most significant of all, incomes to households are affected. All these factors interfere with the chain of spending in the economy needed to create business activities for the development of the Region, and by extension, the country.

The simple, and perhaps innocent act, of delaying any phase of project implementation, be it taking contractors late or signing their payment vouchers late, can produce a ripple effect, that ultimately punishes and even destroys family units.

Because of the political make-up of the Region let’s hope that these actions are not politically motivated, especially since the Works Committee headed by a member of the opposition, signs off on the projects sometimes months after project completion. Payment vouchers reached the REO’s desk for signature, as recently as Thursday August 31, 2017.

One contractor, Roopan Romotar, who is owed $7,974,246 million for two projects awarded on March 29th and completed in May 2017, just could not stand it any longer. He reprimanded the Engineering Department, telling them that he had completed his work “more than three months ago” and they are still holding up his vouchers. Romotar, who spoke to me, said: “they just want the Region and the REO to look bad and get him knock off because it show that he can’t spend the money”. I noted that the contractor’s voucher reached my desk on August 27, signed by the Works Committee Chairperson on 23rd of August, 2017, indeed more than three months after the contract was signed by Romotar on March 7, 2017.

Personal telephone contacts to contractors of 50 project awards made at the Regional Tender Board on July 19th revealed that they were all shown their projects late, some as many as three weeks after they were awarded. In one particular case it took my personal intervention three weeks after the contract for the project was signed, to get the Roads  Superintendent to take the  contractor (name can be supplied) to the site of his project, awarded to him at $6,997,000 million. In fact, letters available would show that $25,251,590 in capital projects have not been shown to the awarded contractors as at August 27, 2017, more than one month after they were awarded, though a letter to the Regional Engineer requested that the contractors be taken to their project sites within three days.

One contractor told me that after he was not taken to his project after about three weeks he “went on me [his] own with the BQ and start” (name available). It is difficult, given these circumstances, to believe that the Region is well served.

To help you to understand the impact, these vouchers are stilled to be further processed for payments, which in Region 2, if we are to take history as a guide, can take another 3 weeks. I have made numerous complaints and I am now compelled to bring this situation to the public and call for a swift investigation into a situation which will eventually bring disrepute to the administration’s hard work.

I can recall a situation in Parliament when I appeared before the Public Accounts Committee regarding the generator for the Region, not supplied after a year, when member, Juan Edghill said to me and persons who included members of the media, that such a transaction should be completed in “six days”. This statement is on record as having been said in the Parliament of Guyana. This may be true in some Regions of Guyana but this region is “differently politically calibrated” where simple processes are deliberately prolonged for months. What explanation can there be for not directing contractors to their projects for more than a month? What explanation is there for having contractors wait for their payments weeks and even months after they complete their projects?  Numerous complaints have been made and the evidence exists and can be made available to authorities, if necessary.

Delayed project implementation gives the Region a false implementation status and rating among Regions, conveying to authorities that the Pomeroon-Supenaam Region, and by extension, the Regional Executive officer is not performing efficiently. It is statistically impossible to award more than 90% of your capital projects and your implementation percentage is only 30% of your budgetary allocations. This is the case in Region 2. For the regional economy these actions by public officials lead to a loss of potential development in the Region and country.

If this situation in Region 2 remains unchecked, it can do great economic and social harm. In some sense the Mighty Sparrow social commentary about “no money” is correct.  My hope is that this situation, even partially, is not replicated in other Regions.

Yours faithfully,

Rupert Hopkinson

Regional Executive Officer

Region Two

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