Audit Office called in over alleged misuse of DHB Asphalt fund for feasibility study

Auditor General, Deodat Sharma
Auditor General, Deodat Sharma

The Public Procurement Commission (PPC) has  forwarded a report on the alleged misuse of finances from the Demerara Harbour Bridge (DHB) Asphalt fund to the Audit Office of Guyana (AOG) for the relevant action to be taken in the matter.

Former People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Chief Whip Gail Teixeira had written the PPC in June of this year to draw its attention to the use of the asphalt fund accounts to source millions for the feasibility study and design for the new Demerara Harbour Bridge.

Reports indicate that in 2017, G$215.3 million was used from the fund, while in 2018 a further G$74 million was withdrawn. The original sum approved by Cabinet for the contract was G$161.5 million. It is understood that the contract price for LievenseCSO, the Dutch company that was handpicked by the Government to carry out the consultancy, was actually G$148 million.

According to PPC Chairperson Carol Corbin in a letter seen by this publication, a copy of Teixeira’s letter, together with the Commission’s previous report on the sole-sourcing of LievenseCSO, will be forwarded to Auditor General Deodat Sharma so that he can take the relevant action.

Corbin noted in her letter that as per Article 212 of the Constitution of Guyana, the Commission is authorised to liaison with and refer matters to the Auditor General and the Guyana Police Force.

In Teixeira’s letter, she had called for the PPC to again investigate the feasibility study for the New Demerara River Crossing in light of new revelations that the cost was racked up by G$131 million more than what the PPC had investigated and found to be the cost in its August 2018 report.

In addition to two varying time periods emanating from the Public Infrastructure Ministry for the duration of the feasibility contract, Teixeira pointed out that new information reveals that the cost of the study had, in fact, been racked up to a whopping G$293.4 million.

“The cost of the feasibility study for the New Demerara River Crossing/Bridge was far in excess of the original figure given…US$709,091, or G$146.3 million, and far in excess of the figure approved by Cabinet…of G$161,514,420 to be used from the Demerara Harbour Bridge Corporation (Asphalt Plant Accounts) to cover costs of the feasibility study for a new bridge across the Demerara River.

“In fact, the feasibility study cost the taxpayers G$293,439,182, or approximately US$1.4 million. This is G$131,924,762 more than what the PPC had investigated and found,” she outlined.

According to Teixeira, further checks also found that there was no appropriation for the MPI in the 2016 Budget for a feasibility study for the new Demerara Harbour Bridge crossing, nor were any funds allocated to the DHBC for such purposes by way of a subvention or grant in that year.