The much-anticipated financial audit of the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) expansion project is expected to commence shortly once the Public Infrastructure Ministry supplies certain information to the Auditor General’s Office.
This is according to Auditor General Deodat Sharma, who told INews during a telephone interview that his office is awaiting word from the subject Ministry as to when the relevant documents will be made available.
“We have written for information to the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Public Infrastructure. That letter went off lately (about two weeks ago) informing that we are carrying out the audit. We are requesting that (information) from them,” he stated.
Sharma further explained that the reason that the Audit Office of Guyana had not requested the critical information from the Ministry was because it needed to have certain groundwork completed in this regard.
This special audit comes in light of a series of calls mounting for a thorough probe into the CJIA expansion project by a wide section of society.
For some time, the Public Infrastructure Ministry has faced questions over the CJIA expansion project’s costs and delayed construction. The project was initially supposed to have been completed within 32 months.
The project got underway in 2012 under the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) administration when Guyana secured a US$138 million loan from the China Exim (Export-Import) Bank to fund the expansion and modernisation project— for which the Guyana Government was to contribute some US$12 million.
The A Partnership for National Unity and Alliance for Change (APNU/AFC), when in Opposition, had cut the funding the then PPP/C Government had allocated for the expansion project.
When the coalition Government came into power in 2015, the project was put on hold, but after discussions between Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson and China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC), it was later announced that the project would be continued but a number of downgrades were done to the design.
The extension of works into 2019 comes in disparity to an earlier commitment by Government, whereby it pledged that the works associated with the expansion would have been completed by the last quarter of 2018.