Contractors bag millions as overpayments recorded between 2010-2018 in Reg. 10
As a result of a series of overpayments dating back to 2010, the State continues to be owed millions of dollars by contractors in Region Ten (Upper Demerara-Upper Berbice) who benefited from these lapses and are yet to repay the money.
Holding someone accountable has also been complicated as those responsible for signing off on the overpayment are no longer employed with the regional administration and the contractors have stopped bidding for contracts in the region.
Some of these persons are said to now be living abroad.
On Monday, Regional Executive Officer of Region Ten, Dwight John told the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that a small amount of the monies owed have been repaid but in large measure, contractors have not repaid the overpaid sums.
In the 2017 Auditor General Report, which is currently being examined by the PAC, the Auditor General stated that there was some progress in recovering overpayments made to contracts by the regional administration for the years 2010 to 2012 and 2015.
Amounts totalling $12.167M remained outstanding at the end of 2017.
Since 2017, the regional administration was only able to recover a minimal sum from those monies owed between the period 2010 to 2015.
It included $100,000 paid on a $1 million overpayment for the construction of a fence at Mabura Nursery School. Since 2010, that contractor has had a total of $396,000 of overpaid sums outstanding.
A contractor, who was overpaid $2.5 million for the construction of a Medex House at Hururu, has repaid the full sum but almost $11 million remains outstanding from 2010 to 2015 in Region 10 alone.
In 2017, a contractor was overpaid over $700, 000 on a contract for the construction of a chain-link fence at One Mile Primary School, Wismar; that overpayment is yet to be repaid.
When asked who signed off on these overpayments, PAC was told that the engineer is no longer within the employ of the region.
Overpayments were repeated with contractors repaying little to none of the overpaid sums. It extended to the contract for general rehabilitation to Christiansburg Secondary School at Wismar which was awarded in 2016.
In one instance, a contractor only repaid $20, 000 on a contract where hundreds of thousands of dollars were overpaid.
And then there were instances where contracts had to be terminated for substandard work but no cash refunds were done since the monies were clear for works done although new contractors had to be hired to fix defects and complete projects.
One such example includes the contract for the construction of a health centre and living quarters at Wiruni in the Berbice River.
The REO said letters are being sent to these contractors to recoup the overpaid sums. He also assured PAC that systems have been improved to ensure that these instances of overpayment are not repeated.