The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Government presented its first National Budget on Wednesday in which it allocated a total of $34.4 billion for the infrastructure sector.
The budget was presented by Public Works Minister Juan Edghill on behalf of the Government. Edghill, who has responsibility for the sector, said the Government was forced to make provisions in this year’s budget to finance several critical interventions on unfinished projects left by the APNU+AFC.
Although Members of Parliament from the APNU+AFC coalition stayed away from the budget presentation, Edghill told the House that the PPP is now saddled with the responsibility to ensure that unfinished projects left by the previous government are completed with utmost speed and diligence.
“When we were last in Government five years ago, the PPP/C commenced numerous transformational projects, much of which the previous administration were mere custodians to ensure that they were implemented expeditiously, efficiently and within their budgeted amounts. The sad tale is that due to their ineptitude we are now saddled with the responsibility to ensure that these projects are completed with utmost speed and diligence.”
The Works Minister singled out projects like the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) which the PPP/C, while in Government, negotiated and contracted.
“A project that the APNU-AFC Government restructured to deliver a half-baked, partially rehabilitated facility rather than a brand-new airport… This facility would have been able to land A380 Airbuses and would have had 8 boarding bridges as well as new arrival and departure terminals. After five years of thumb-twiddling by the APNU-AFC outfit, we have had the occasion to read the riot act to the contractors to complete the substantially reduced-scoped project,” he added.
Edghill also spoke to the East Coast Demerara Highway. He said “the APNU-AFC Government hastened to cut the ribbon, as a political gimmick, despite works that are yet to be completed. We in the PPP/C will complete this project and have already actively moved to utilise unspent balances to replace all the acro-panel bridges between Sheriff Street and the Hope Canal.”
The Public Works Minister in a fiery address said this will pave the way for the complete resurfacing of the East Coast Railway Embankment road from Sheriff Street to Enmore, and the construction of a new paved road from Golden Grove to the Hope Canal, thus providing six lanes available for commuters on this corridor.
“We also speak to the first leg of the Linden to Lethem road for which the APNU-AFC outfit have only managed to conduct the designs, at a budget that surpassed the available funding, and were stuck in indecisiveness on how to proceed,” he told the National Assembly.
Edghill said since taking office, the PPP Government has commenced the remodelling of the project to a manageable level, whereby the highway can be completed from Linden to Mabura Hill within the resource availability of US$150 million.
Turning his attention to the Ogle to Diamond by-pass road which was designed by the APNU-AFC Government to the cost of US$208 million, Edghill pointed out that the PPP had previously secured from the Indian Government a signed line of credit for US$50 million.
“Again, they were stuck in indecision and confusion. Mere days in office and we have already secured an agreement to re-scope the project into phases, whereby the first phase can proceed from Ogle to Haags Bosch, including the connector at Haags Bosch to link with the East Bank Highway at Eccles. This will be done within the current line of credit of US$50 million, while at the same time, we are exploring opportunities to secure financing for the remainder of the road.”
He also slammed the APNU+AFC Government for what he said were lamentable and pedantic efforts to conclude any arrangement for the construction of the new Demerara River crossing.
He said within the last few weeks this government has re-kindled huge interest in this project.
Work is currently being done to facilitate the launching of an Expression of Interest (EOI) for the design, construction and financing options for a four-lane high-span bridge.