By Fareeza Haniff
[www.inewsguyana.com] – The APNU+AFC government has decided to pause some projects which fall under the Rural Development Fund (RDF) after it was discovered that millions of dollars were spent on certain buildings and not documented.
Minister of State, Joseph Harmon told a post cabinet media briefing that 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.
Wakenaam and Leguan would have seen the establishment of a Plantain Chip Factory, while Enmore and Tuschen were earmarked for call centers. According to Harmon, as of June 30, over $20M had been spent on the building at Wakenaam and there was a further $33.6M still to be spent on it. Additionally, some $24M was invested in Leguan.
“What was most important was that the Minister of Business…looking for proposals and documents of these projects but of course, he could find none. So Cabinet decided that the Minister of Business, assisted by various agencies such as the Guyana Marketing Corporation, the Ministry of Agriculture and other elements within the Ministry of Business, that they conduct a very serious review of the monies spent under this project.”
He revealed that so far, close $100M had been spent and therefore government will now have to review the way in which the money was spent, following which a decision will be taken as to whether the projects will be completed.
The review will also include the input of Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo and Minister of Communities Ronald Bulkan regarding the purpose of the fund and its actual feasibility in terms of profitability and employment.