…Conflict of interest at Housing Ministry
Transparency Institute of Guyana Incorporated (TIGI) has weighed in on the conflict of interest issues arising in the Housing Ministry, saying the fact that a contract for constructing houses was awarded to the Housing Minister’s husband is not a good look for the State.
On Saturday, TIGI called for Government to review the contract award.
In an interview with Inews, TIGI President, Dr Troy Thomas noted that a review would determine to what extent Housing Minister Valerie Patterson-Yearwood was involved in her husband being awarded the contract.
“It would seem that there is a conflict of interest and then it would be important to try to understand the circumstances under which the contract was awarded and to what extent the Minister was involved,” Dr Thomas said.
“Even if the Minister wasn’t directly involved, if a subordinate of the Minister was involved, the whole situation doesn’t seem ideal,” he explained, nevertheless acknowledging reports that the contract was awarded before the Minister got married.
He noted that the timeline for the award of the contract could raise complications regarding accusations of a conflict of interest in the award of the contract. But he said the importance of transparency and the need for answers are important.
“Given that it has come out like this, it should definitely be reviewed and let’s understand what happened, when it happened.”
Earlier this week, it was revealed that the Housing Minister’s husband, Godfrey Yearwood, was awarded a contract to build homes for a project spearheaded by the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA).
That project is still ongoing and according to CH&PA Chief Executive Officer, Lelon Saul in an interview with the media after the story broke, the contract awarded to the Minister’s husband was a one-off award.
In fact, Saul himself noted to the media that the contract award is a conflict of interest and in fact that a review of the award might be in order. He had called for the CH&PA board to review the matter and ensure there is no reoccurrence.
“The award of contracts is above my level. But I think the (CH&PA) Board should review that (awarding process) based on recommendations coming from the agency,” Saul asserted.
When contacted on Thursday for a comment on the matter, which was published in Guyana Times on that day (April 4, 2019), Minister Patterson-Yearwood said she would not give a comment.
This issue came to the fore on Wednesday last when Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo disclosed that the Minister’s husband had sub-contracted the works and the person whom he hired is complaining of not being paid for works done to date.
In fact, the construction worker, a resident of Victoria Village, on the East Coast of Demerara, had written President David Granger four times over the past year for his intervention but only got acknowledgement responses so far.