Apologise ‘for what?’ – Patterson says after Irfaan Ali produces East Bank/East Coast feasibility study
The Minister of Public Infrastructure David Patterson has refused to apologise after promising to do so Wednesday night if the Opposition could produce a feasibility study on the East Bank/East Coast Demerara road project.
The project was among many Patterson listed during his presentation during the 2019 Budget Debate in the National Assembly. He claimed that some US$600 million in projects were undertaken by the former PPP/C Government.
As he touched on the East Bank/East Coast road project, Opposition Parliamentarian Irfaan Ali challenged him and said he could produce the study. Patterson stated then: “You can bring it here, sir. Lay it here, and I will apologise to you in public.”
Before the session was over, Ali produced an electronic copy to the Clerk of the House but Patterson wanted a printed copy. This was shared with him on Thursday morning.
At the conclusion of the first session of the debate Thursday morning, Patterson took to the floor to acknowledge receipt of the report but offered no apology.
Opposition Chief Whip, Gail Teixeira then stood up to protest, but the Speaker, Dr Barton Scotland said he would not bring Wednesday’s issues into Thursday’s business.
Ali told the News Room that the study was produced by a local consultant and staff of the then Central Housing and Planning Authority because they were capable of doing it following an aggressive institutional strengthening programme at the then Ministry of Housing.
During a press briefing at public buildings, Minister Patterson criticised the study and said it was built through housing areas and the current Government did a new study.
Funding from the Government of India was committed to the tune of US$50 million for the original project, but the new project will cost US$100 million more.
Ali said the original feasibility study was published on the Ministry’s website and was shared with the Indian Government and the Ministry of Finance, so Patterson should have known it existed.
At a press briefing, Patterson again acknowledged receipt of the study, but when asked if he would apologise as promised he responded: “No, for what?”
He continued: “Listen to me, you just don’t turn up and bring a study just like that people were looking for.
“I am just stating that I acknowledged that I received a report from him.”