“Where is the moral compass?” – Edghill asks as more vouchers show millions in taxpayers’ money spent on gifts for Patterson

L-R: Minister of Public Works Juan Edghill and former Minister of Public Infrastructure David Patterson
L-R: Minister of Public Works Juan Edghill and former Minister of Public Infrastructure David Patterson

Recent revelations that former Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson received hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts from the Demerara Harbour Bridge Company may only be the tip of the iceberg.

Documents released by his successor, Public Works Minister Juan Edghill show that other agencies also provided the former Minister with millions of dollars in gifts, using taxpayer’s money.

Edghill told reporters during a press briefing today that a number of vouchers and receipts showed that over $2 million worth of gifts were purchased for Patterson for his birthday.
In May 2020 – after the March 2 elections – $704,292 worth of gifts were purchased for Patterson from the Maritime Administration Department.

In another case, Edghill showed documents and receipts indicating that on May 4, 2020, a further $387,000 was spent.

In May 2018, a further $600,000 was spent by the Maritime Administration for gifts for Patterson on his birthday.

In May 2017, the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority spent $117,200 in a gift for the Minister
The Transport and Harbour Department and Cheddi Jagan International Airport were also flagged for buying gifts and memorabilia for the Minister.

These gifts do not include the money spent buying gold jewelry for the former Minister from the Demerara Harbour bridge company – purchases he acknowledged receiving in a statement today.

In a statement released by the APNU/AFC Opposition, Patterson admitted to accepting some of the gifts but insisted that the practice is nothing new.

Patterson also contended that he was of the opinion that all the gifts he received were purchased by the various agencies after they got the necessary clearance to do so. The APNU/AFC statement posited that Patterson “assumed that gifts presented to him during his incumbency were fully compliant with the procurement guidelines of the giving agency.”

But Edghill contended, “this is the kind of gifts that Mr Patterson accepted…he thought everything was okay, he never solicited. Yet at no time at all, did he say to agency heads ‘why are you bringing me all these expensive gifts?’ Where is the moral compass?”

“When you are caught with your hands in the cookie jar, you throw the agency heads under the bus. Where is the level of decency?”

Minister Edghill made it clear that a shakeup is imminent at agencies that facilitated this gift buying spree.