By Fareeza Haniff
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Former Minister of Tourism, Irfaan Ali is flabbergasted that Minister of Business, Dominic Gaskin cannot find documents relating to the expenditure of projects under the Rural Development Fund (RDF).
The RDF, which was approved in the 2014 budget, was managed by the Ministry of Tourism, Industry and Commerce into which $1B was placed.
This fund was meant to create employment in rural communities and thus far, it was discovered that works were done at Wakenaam, Leguan, Tuschen, East Bank Essequibo and Enmore, East Coast Demerara to the cost of approximately $100M.
As a result of not finding the documents, the APNU+AFC government has since put the projects on pause, noting that it is under review and a decision will be made as to whether it will be continued.
But Ali told iNews that the monies were approved in the 2014 budget and that all questions were answered in Parliament. He provided iNews with the document detailing the plans for the Chip Factories in Leguan and Wakenaam and Call Centers in Enmore and Tuschen along with a Rice Cereal Factory in Essequibo.
According to Ali, the projects were also publicly advertised. “I cannot understand how he can say there is not enough information on this project. All the documents are there and it was publicly advertised and awarded at the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board,” Ali told iNews.
The former Minister also expressed shock that the project was approved by the very APNU+AFC who were in Opposition at the time. According to the document seen by iNews, the RDF will see the construction of two call centres located at Tuschen – Region 3 and Enmore – Region 4 at a cost G$114.2M and G$106.2M, respectively. Once fully operational, these call centres are expected to create employment for approximately 1900 individuals at full capacity, all of whom can be directly employed from within the community it is located in or in surrounding areas within the respective regions.
“Should Qualfon opt to be responsible for operationalising these call centres, great economic benefits are expected to be had such as access to a large relatively cheap labour supply, assurance from high levels of labour turnover, adequate infrastructure, access to reliable supplies of water and power and use of an inexpensive, spacious and attractive building for business. In addition, Qualfon will benefit from duty free concessions on the importation of indispensible equipment as well as other support within the ambit of the Government,” the document provided by Ali stated.
|Call Centre||Tuschen||114, 195,957|
|Call Centre||Enmore||106, 208,067|
|Chip Processing Machines||Leguan & Wakenaam||21,240,000|
|Rice Cereal Plant*||Anna Region||100, 000, 000|
“This project is being implemented by IAST and it is being funded from the RDF. The money was transferred via a warrant to Ministry of Presidency (formerly Office of the President)” the document noted.