Ministry supplies info to Auditor General on D’Urban Park

The Ministry of Public Infrastructure (MPI) has delivered the promised information on money spent on the billion-dollar D’Urban Park Development Project, according to Auditor General Deodat Sharma.

Sharma declined to say anything further, stating that the information sent is being audited at the moment.

Given all the questions surrounding the spending associated with the venture which began soon after the APNU+AFC coalition government took office in May 2015, the Office of the Auditor General began a special audit.

Soon after the audit commenced, Sharma wrote to Homestretch Development Inc (HDI), which was the company that started the project requesting some information.

He told Stabroek News on Thursday that the letter he sent to the address he had for the company was returned after apparently not being delivered.  He said that no official from the company has made contact with him or his office. His inability to get information from the company will be included in his final report.

In November of 2015, then Governance Minister Raphael Trotman had announced that Cabinet had given the go ahead for contracts for the transformation of D’Urban Park into a “Green Zone Recreational Park,” in time for Guyana’s 50th anniversary celebrations the following year.

It was around this time that Larry London was linked to the project.

London was subsequently revealed to be a part owner of HDI. It was later learnt that then Education Minister Dr Rupert Roopnaraine was also a director of HDI. President David Granger had defended his involvement with the company, saying that the minister’s role was only to represent the government’s interest.

From all indications, HDI, through donations both from local persons and those in the diaspora, commenced work at the site in September, 2015, about two months before government officially announced what was happening there.

Over $1.3 billion has been spent on the project – a large parade ground with wooden stands – and despite this, the National Assembly has been asked to approve millions in extra-budgetary spending to meet additional costs.

State Minister Joseph Harmon recently berated Sharma for publicly commenting on the ongoing investigation and for reaching out to the private company for information instead of the government.

He was responding to the contents of an article that appeared in this newspaper’s February 21st edition in which Sharma disclosed that he had written to HDI.

“That company, they would have collected money. We don’t know how much money they collected and we don’t know what type of expenditures they did before the Ministry of Public [Infrastructure] took it [the project] over,” Sharma had said.

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