Audit finds about $75M overpaid for COVID-19 hospital

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The Audit Office has completed its probe into the Infectious Diseases Hospital at Liliendaal, East Coast Demerara, and discovered that approximately $75M was overpaid to contractors.

The hospital, which is now used to house critically ill and isolated COVID-19 patients, was rehabilitated from the defunct Ocean View Hotel.

After handing over his 2019 audit report on Thursday, Auditor General, Deodat Sharma told the media that the report into the hospital was handed over to Minister of Health, Dr Frank Anthony and the Permanent Secretary, Malcolm Watkins.

Mr Sharma said he will not divulge any other information until he receives a response from the Permanent Secretary. During a presentation in the National Assembly in September, Dr Anthony stated that the former APNU+AFC government overpaid one contractor $70M.

He had said there was another case where the contractor was given $14.7M as an advance payment to install an elevator but the job was not done.

According to the Minister, eight contractors were hired on June 16 by the former government but the certificate and valuation of work completed were done on the same day.

“Payments were made in such a hurry that contractors got paid days before the contractors signed and certified the vouchers…There was no evidence of any of the contractors submitting any performance bonds or guarantee,” Dr Anthony had said.

The Infectious Diseases Hospital was commissioned on July 30, 2020, by former President David Granger. The total cost for the building was pegged at $1.6B.

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