…Finance Minister tells them they will be underpaid, they could either “take it or leave it”
Contractors will be significantly underpaid for works done at the D’Urban Park complex and Finance Minister Winston Jordan told them they can either “take it or leave it.”
The Minister added that those contractors who are dissatisfied with their underpayment, are free to file lawsuits against the building company, Homestretch Development Inc (HDI) – which was clandestinely registered for the purpose of collecting monies for the D’Urban Park Project.
Jordan at a press briefing on Monday said that the company still owes approximately $298 million to contractors but he noted that Government will not be releasing any more monies.
Government on December 14, approved an additional $500 million to be paid out from the Consolidated Fund to a number of contractors and other persons owed varying amounts for works done on the controversial Jubilee Park Project.
But the $500 million is inadequate to meet the debts of the company, which owes contractors some $798 million altogether.
“Government indicated that it can only accommodate the $500 million as the full and final settlement. What that means is that HDI will have to pay some apportionment relative to the debts owed. This is a ‘take it or leave it’ situation. If you were owed $2 million by HDI, and it works out that you will only get paid $1.2 million, then you could either accept $1.2 million as the full and final settlement or you could sue HDI,” the Finance Minister explained.
The Minister refused to expand on his proposal for the disgruntled contractors to file a lawsuit against the building company, shutting down further questions on the matter.
“I don’t want to answer any more questions on this,” he expressed, noting that he will only disclose information relative to the financial aspect of the D’Urban Park scandal.
It is assumed that the company does not generate its own revenue since it relied on monies from donations and from the public purse for the construction of D’Urban Park.
President David Granger had described HDI as a “special purpose” company, setup with the sole purpose of overseeing the D’Urban Park development.
It is therefore puzzling, regarding the source of the finance for legal proceedings if HDI is sued for underpaying the contractors.
Government already pumped $400 million into the D’Urban Park Project, which has been shrouded in secrecy since its inception in 2015.
Only several weeks ago it was finally disclosed that a private company was registered in January to collect donations which were given since the previous year towards to D’Urban Park development.
Questions still abound regarding which entity collected the monies that were donated before HDI was established.
Concerns were also voiced about the absence of public tendering for a project that amounted to close to $1 billion.
Education Minister Dr Rupert Roopnaraine is a Director of HDI but Government never disclosed this information.
Following a motion brought by Opposition Parliamentarian Bishop Juan Edghill, Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson finally announced to the National Assembly the list of those who sat as directors of the company.
He failed to disclose that his cabinet colleague was a Director, and the coalition Administration is yet to offer an explanation regarding why this information was withheld and what process was undertaken for the Education Minister to be sitting as a Director.
Other affiliates of the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government including Larry London is also a Director of HDI.
Patterson’s Ministry subsequently took over work of the D’Urban Park Project after Government realised that HDI had run out of resources to complete the arena in time for the country’s 50th Independence anniversary celebrations.
Government also cited the shoddy works done as reasons for the Public Infrastructure Ministry to take over the project.
Meanwhile, Minister Patterson had told the House that a total of $27.7 million was received in the form of donations from private individuals and entities, while another $37 million came about ‘in kind’. As it relates to the donations, the Minister provided a list to the House.
The Opposition is calling on the Auditor General to conduct an immediate forensic audit into all revenues, expenditure and donations received. It contends that the coalition Government attempted to propagate the impression that D’Urban Park was privately funded when only less than 10 per cent of the financing was from private individuals. (Devina Samaroo: Guyana Times)