Govt rushes to spend $9B in 3 weeks

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Struggling Capital projects

By Gary Eleazer

The Public Infrastructure Ministry was only able to spend $14 billion out of the $23.3 billion it was allocated for capital works in 2016. As such they will have three weeks to spend the remaining $9 billion before the ministry is required to close its financial books and return all unused monies to the Consolidated Fund.
Public Infrastructure Minister, David Patterson, made the disclosure this past week and revealed that under the allocations for Capital Works for the Ministry only 60 per cent of its programme was completed as at December 6 last.

Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson
Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson

Minister Patterson made the disclosure as he was making his contributions to the debates on the 2017 National Estimates and lamented the pace with which the Ministry has been going about with the Public Sector Investment Programme.
According to Patterson, the pace of implementation in 2016 was not as anticipated “but we have improved capacity,”
He told the House that the Public Infrastructure Ministry has since been able to put district engineers and clerk of works in each administrative region.
Providing a review of his stewardship of the Public Infrastructure Ministry during the course of the past year, Patterson disclosed that recurrent expenditure by the Government agency was only 80 per cent of what it was allocated for the entire year.
Overall, out of $6.45 billion the Ministry was allocated, $5.345 billion was expended (82.82 per cent), according to Patterson.

WATERFRONT DEVELOPMENT

Turning his attention to some of the Ministry’s plans for the upcoming year, Minister Patterson said Government will be looking to vigorously pursue the Georgetown to Ogle Waterfront Infrastructure Development and Enhancement Project.
Patterson recalled for the House that during his Budget 2016 presentation, he had listed a myriad of projects to be funded by the Government of Guyana and the UK – Caribbean Infrastructure Fund (DFID).
Providing an update, Patterson told the House that after reviewing the situation, the preferred option of the Donor is for one large project which would stand out and could be easily visible.
He said in a subsequent discussion that the Ministry had proposed another huge project, with two revised projects, namely the creation and/or restoration of modern Waterfront Recreational Areas between Kingston and Ogle and Stabroek Market and Vreed-en-Hoop, along with improved accessibility between Waterfront Development at Seawall and Stabroek Area.
He said the acquisition of a dredge is also part of this project.
Minister Patterson told the House too of the other project which involves the rehabilitation and upgrading of the Linden to Mabura Road and the construction of a Bridge across the Kurupukari River at Kurupukari Crossing.
He disclosed that it will be the Caribbean Development Bank which will be responsible for overseeing these projects and a team from the Bank will be in Guyana from next week so that formal agreement could be finalised on the two revised projects.

CORE
Patterson used the occasion to announce too that the Ministry of Public Infrastructure will embark on a new initiative in 2017 that will lend to environmentally sustainable communities namely the Community Organised for the Restoration of the Environment (CORE).
According to Patterson, CORE “is a unique initiative that will see the establishment of 20 community groups across all of Guyana’s regions.”
He said each region will have two teams, except Region Two, which will have one team, and Region Four, which will have three teams.
Some of the identified communities are Moruka, Port Kaituma, Number 51 to Moleson Creek, Kato, Mahdia, Bartica, Lethem, and Linden.
According to Patterson, the initiative is designed to supplement the work of the Special Projects Unit of the Ministry in such a manner that it provides for the environmental upgrade, drainage, and sanitation improvement and general aesthetics of the works being undertaken by the Unit.
Speaking of the Ministry’s plans for the upcoming year, Patterson disclosed that works have already commenced on the installation of lights, for the very first time, in Yarrowkabra and “we will be expanding into new areas in 2017.”
He told the House that some 50 areas have been identified and include the 14 Friendship Squatting Area; Rosignol Cultivation Area; Mainstay Housing Scheme; Number 30 Village; and Goodland, Canal Number One.
He said too that the ministry will in 2017 invite and establish Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) with Independent Power Producers (IPPs) for generation from renewable resources at Anna Regina and Bartica.
The Minister said 2017 will also see the ministry pursuing an aggressive meter upgrade programme using Advanced Metering Infrastructure compatible meters with the 2017 target set at 16,000 meters. (Guyana Times)

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