Homestretch Development Inc. formed to expedite completion of D’urban Park Project
Following a motion tabled by the Opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) in the National Assembly on Monday demanding answers on the financial arrangements surrounding the D’urban Park Project, it was disclosed that the project was completed by a company called Homestretch Development Incorporated (HDI).
Subsequently, it was revealed that Minister of Education, Dr. Rupert Roopnarine is one of the Director of the company; a fact which saw the government receiving added criticisms since it was earlier criticised for failing to reveal the details of the project.
In a statement on Thursday evening, President David Granger said Dr. Roopnarine’s presence on the board was only to represent the Government’s interest “because the celebrations, which we had aimed at, at the time of the establishment of the Company, concerned largely the 50th-anniversary celebrations.”
He emphasised that “there was nothing secret nor criminal about the D’urban Park Development Project”, and HDI was established solely to facilitate completion of the Project in time for Guyana’s 50th Independence Anniversary celebration in the absence of budgetary allocations, following the May 2015 elections.
“When we went into office, budgetary provisions were not made for the construction of that stadium in time for Independence celebrations in May 2016 and it was felt prudent to establish a special purpose company… when we realised that we had to engage in contracts and agreements with construction firms to build the stands and everything else that was involved in the stadium and as soon as we could, we terminated the work of that company and [transferred the project to] the Ministry of Public Infrastructure with the sole responsibility to complete the Project,” President Granger said during the recording of this week’s Public Interest.
The APNU+AFC government assumed office in May 2015. The 2015 National Budget was subsequently presented in August.
The project began in September 2015.
The 2016 Budget was presented in January 2016.
According to the PPP/C, the Company; Homestretch Development Inc. was only registered on January 22, 2016. The other Directors are Larry London, Babita Ram, Victor Wilson and G. Miller. It was also noted that no compensation were paid to the directors.
Similar questions were posed to Minister of State, Mr. Joseph Harmon, this morning, during his post-Cabinet Press Briefing. The Minister said that the company was established long after works started by public-spirited citizens for the public good and it became necessary to establish it to source funding after their efforts had been exhausted.
“The time when the company was established did not coincide with the time the work started because it started as private citizens coming forward and giving of their time and of their resources… It really was about private citizens coming forward to clean-up a public place for a public good. I want to make this distinction between what happened there at D’urban Park and what happened in the previous administration. The previous administration, they were using public assets for the benefit of a private few. I need to make that very clear… that this was private citizens contributing to a public good as opposed to taking the public asset and converting it to private… The benefit,” he said.
The Opposition’s motion on Monday night which was later voted against by the government, called for the government to state the amount of money spent on the project, say who the private donors were, if the donations were recorded in the registry of the state, whether the donations were submitted to the consolidated fund, and whether these donors were given specific promises.