Durban Park audit for year-end completion
By Devina Samaroo
Auditor General Deodat Sharma aims to wrap up his special audit into the controversial Durban Park Project before the end of the year even if he does not receive certain financial records which appear to be missing.
Durban Park, the flagship project of the coalition administration, descended into controversy after there was little transparency regarding the financing of the initiative.
Almost $1B was expended on this project but there seems to be little trace as to how the monies were spent and how contracts were tendered.
Given the concerns of mismanagement of the State’s resources, the Auditor General had launched a special audit into this project but he hit a major stumbling block when he could not find records of transactions during the early stages of the project when it was handled by Homestretch Development Inc. – a special purpose company which was established to oversee the completion of the facility in time for Guyana’s 50th Anniversary celebrations.
“We are still awaiting some records from the company that was formed. As mentioned in the Auditor General Report of 2016, we wrote the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Public Infrastructure and he said he had no information in terms of that company,” Mr Sharma told News Room during an interview on Friday, January 12, 2018, at his Georgetown office.
The Auditor General’s next step is to write the company – even though it is technically no longer in existence – for the documents.
“Once we get the information and the formation of that company and its expenditure and that together with the physical inspection by y engineer will complete the Durban Park investigation,” he explained.
However, if he does not succeed in garnering the relevant documents, Mr Sharma said he will have to close the investigations.
The Auditor General hopes to have the audit completed before he submits the 2017 Auditor General Report in September.
In 2016 a total of $479M was allocated to the project.
Later, the government through the Committee of Supply in the National Assembly approved the transfer of an additional $500M to the special purpose company to pay contractors who were owed.
Some contractors were still owed as the monies requested were not enough but Minister of Finance Winston Jordan had explained that they can either “take it or leave it”.
Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson had disclosed that the company had collected $27.7M in cash donations while contributions in kind were valued some $33M for the project.
Patterson’s ministry took over oversight of the project after the company floundered in the lead up to 50th Independence anniversary celebrations. Durban Park was not constructed according to the original design which portrayed several ponds.