Finance Minister frustrated with sloppy works of local contractors, wants Int’l exposure
By Devina Samaroo
Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan on Monday vented his frustration at the spate of sloppy works being done by local contractors, taking a swing at projects such as the East Bank Highway expansion and the Kato Secondary School.
He emphasised that Guyana needs more international experience when it comes to local projects but lamented that overseas firms do not want to do business here because of the high perception of corruption.
Jordan explained during a news conference that the Senior Vice President of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Julie Katzman during a recent visit here pointed out that Guyana needs to work on reducing its corruption perception index.
“We should be aware that Guyana is still looked upon as a very corrupt country, those are her exact words … and these contractors, given their reputation, are very afraid to be tainted so they don’t come,” he stated.
Pointing to the East Bank Demerara road expansion project and the Kato Secondary School, Jordan posited that monies and time have been wasted to correct the deficiencies.
“You see it all over the place, you build a road now and you have to go fix it back in six months. You build a school now and you have to go fix it back. You spend a $1B plus on Kato [School] and now you have to go spend another half a billion it,” he vented, noting that the EBD road is already showing signs of inferior works.
“I’ve never seen a road where you looking for which part of the road to drive because your car wobbling all over the place … the road just built and it’s already sinking and water accumulating,” he expressed.
Jordan contended that it was a bad idea to split the works for the project even though the reason was to build local capacity.
“I believe, the last government in a bid to build local capacity, broke up the EBD into smaller packages … Three contractors doing different stresses of a continuous road is bad news … it is asking for three different results,” he stated, noting that it would have been better to package the project to attract an international firm.
According to the Finance Minister, the government has to strike a balance regarding local initiatives so that certain projects attract international competitive bidding.
The Finance Minister said he recognizes the importance of building the capacity of local contractors, but he stressed that some projects should be reserved for international companies. He used the Marriott Hotel Guyana as an example, highlighting that impressive technology was used to ensure the structure was superior and built in a timely manner.
Meanwhile, Jordan said another major reason for the shoddy works is the integrity of the consultants who approve the projects.
“You’re paying a consultant to make certain that the contractor is not cheating…one of the first things that has to happen, we have to pay special attention to the supervision of works generally. Sloppy works come from sloppy supervision. That’s where major problems lie,” he explained.