Probe launched into construction of US$4.4M embassy in Brazil

Then Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge and then Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson turned the sod in 2017 to mark the start of the project

A US$4.4 million contract that was awarded in 2019 under the former A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government for an ambassador’s residence and diplomatic staff quarters to be built in Brazil, is currently under special investigation by the Audit Office of Guyana.

This is because the project is one riddled with disagreements over what type of contract should have been signed, as well as conflicts between the contractor, who was the lowest responsive bidder of three, and the supervisory management team for the project.

According to the Auditor General’s 2021 report, the US$4.4 million (G$937.9 million) contract was initially awarded in 2019 with a six months defects liability period and a construction duration of eighteen months. However, there was conflict between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the contractor over whether the contract should be a “measure and value” or a “fixed price” contract.

“The contractor claimed that the contract should be classified as ‘a measure and value’ contract and that payments should be based on measured works. The contractor also claimed that the approved bill of quantities was incorrect since it did not match the designs and additional works on the ground had to be carried out.”

“There were also problems between the contractor and the supervisory management team. The contractor reported that the consultant was recommending payments based on the bill of quantities and not measured works,” the Audit Report said.

As a consequence, it was related that the labour force was reduced. To address these issues, a stop work order was issued for the period 5 February 2020 to 5 March 2020, and then extended to 20 March 2020.

A number of meetings were also held and it was finally determined that the contract should be a “fixed price” contract. Although works recommenced on the project, there was further delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which affected labour and resource mobilisation

At the end of 2020, the contractor received payments of US$2.4 million (G$501.2 million). In 2021, amounts totalling US$1.8 million (G$383.7 million) were paid, bringing the total payments to US$4.2 million ($885 million).

According to the Auditor General, these payments to date represent 94 per cent of the contract sum. At the time of reporting, the project was 64 per cent completed and a special investigation of the project by the Audit Office was underway.

The sod for this project to be built in Brasilia, Brazil was turned since 2017, by then Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge and then Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson, during a visit to the neighbouring country.

Speaking in other sections of the media, Foreign Affairs Minister Hugh Todd had said earlier this year that the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government inherited the project with numerous flaws. A sum of G$17.3 million was set aside in the 2022 budget to complete the project.