October 21, 2016

PPP/C to challenge wind farm deal with Govt financier

The People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) says it intends to vigorously challenge – in the courts if needs be – the ‘corrupt’ wind farm deal entered into between the current coalition Administration and one of its financiers, Lloyd Singh.

APNU/AFC financier, Lloyd Singh

APNU/AFC financier, Lloyd Singh

This position was adumbrated on Thursday by Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo, who was at the time addressing media operatives at the Party’s Freedom House Headquarters.
“If they persist with it then we will have no choice but to review it,” Jagdeo said, even as he called on the international community, specifically the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to not fall prey to the machinations of the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government.
Speaking to the IDB’s involvement, Jagdeo spoke to the fact that the international financial institution has funded an Energy Matrix Study for Guyana.
This study, he said, was handed over to Government since June of this year but Government is still to make a pronouncement on this report.
The former President drew reference to the fact that Finance Minister Winston Jordan had announced the negotiations of a Power Purchase Agreement between Government, through the Guyana Power and Light Company (GPL) and the principals for the proposed 25 Mega Watts, Wind Farm.
Jagdeo said, international consultants usually just ‘baptise’ projects put forward by governments and he was hoping that this was not the case with the proposed US$50 million Hope Beach Wind Farm.
He posited that the Energy Mix Study “may just baptise this, what is already in the system.”
According to Jagdeo, there was never a public tender or any sort of competitive process with respect to the pursuit of a wind farm as part of Government’s renewable energy drive.
On the matter of the Hope Beach Wind Farm principal, Jagdeo said Lloyd Singh is a known financier of the AFC.
“Imagine a man who built the AFC headquarters is now negotiating with General Secretary of the AFC [Minister David Patterson] for or a Power Purchase Agreement that was never tendered and announced long before the power mix study…This smacks of corruption.”
As such, the former President said even if Government were to go ahead with the project, the “PPP is not bound to respect anything that is done in this manner.”
He said his party will vigorously oppose any Power Purchase Agreement negotiated in secret by related parties.
This agreement, he said, will not necessarily be respected by the PPP.
The US$50 million wind farm project is being touted by Government as its solution to GPL blackout woes, but Jagdeo has since questions what obtains if the wind speed for any given day were to drop below what is required and as a result generation reduces to nil.
“What will be the back-up power that will kick in,” Jagdeo questioned, even as he sought to explain that with a wind farm, what is being purchased is energy and not necessarily capacity.
Jagdeo – the main proponent behind the development of the Amaila Falls Hydro Electric Project – said hydro offers both capacity and energy, “this seems to escape them, so we gonna be spending tons of money. This is a corrupt transaction.”
Jagdeo also used the opportunity to take to task Finance Minister Winston Jordan, who according to the Opposition Leader, misled the National Assembly when he announced the development of and negotiations surrounding the wind farm at Hope Beach.
He drew reference to the Finance Minister’s presentation to the House where he alluded to the power being purchased from the Wind Farm Project at 12 cents per kilowatt hour versus the 28 cents per kilowatt hour (kwh) that it was costing GPL to generate electricity.
According to Jagdeo, the generating cost for GPL at the time was 11cents per kwh, “he was wrong.”
The former President said members of the Administration have since privately conceded that the Finance Minister was wrong.
Jagdeo suggested that the Finance Minister deliberately used the inflated cost of electricity generation in order to justify the feasibility of the wind farm.
He used the occasion to also lament the fact that there have been no investment decisions made about installing new capacity adding that, “they have effectively killed the hydro power and they are now in a mad scramble to resurrect the wind farm.”
The matter of the wind farm, according to Jagdeo, will be raised with the Norwegian Government which itself is currently conducted another study on the feasibility of the Amaila Falls Hydro Electric project.
Jagdeo was adamant that Government’s proposed solution in the form of a wind farm will not bring an end to the spate of blackouts and other woes as he maintained that “this thing is a corrupt deal and we will scrutinise this… will press them hard to get the details of this contract.”
According to Jagdeo, “we have to look at it, if we find that it is particularly egregious then we will challenge it as we have done in the courts and use every means that is available to us to expose it.”

Banks DIH employees robbed on BV Public Road

Armed bandits on Wednesday evening tied up and robbed a delivery truck driver/salesman and two porters of Banks DIH Limited at the Beterverwagting Public Road, East Coast Demerara.images

The robbery occurred sometime around 19:00h during which three males, one of them armed with a handgun, escaped with an undisclosed sum of cash.
According to reports, the driver/salesman, Trevor Thom of West Ruimveldt, Georgetown, and the two porters were in the company’s truck proceeding west on the East Coast Public Road when they were allegedly intercepted by a dark-coloured car.
The DIH employees told investigators that the car suddenly stopped in front of their truck, causing them to halt immediately. Three men quickly exited the car and approached the truck. They proceeded to hold up employees at gunpoint and relieved them of the cash which was in the truck from the day’s business.
According to the employees, the bandits then placed pieces of cloth over their face, causing them to lose consciousness. The employees further stated that at about 20:30h, they regained consciousness and found themselves in the back of the truck, bound with duct tape.
They were subsequently freed by a passer-by who heard them banging the walls of the truck. After being freed, the men found that they were at Enmore Railway Embankment.
No one has been arrested for the robbery but investigations are continuing.

Sugar workers strike at Albion, Wales Estates

After an announcement that the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) will not be considering wage increases for workers until 2020, the workers united in a one-day strike to express their disapproval on Thursday.
At the Albion Estate, the workers demonstrated their disagreement with the position GuySuCo has taken by staging a protest. Close to 70 workers held placards bearing anti-GuySuCo slogans and chanted, “No money, no wuk”, along the Corentyne Highway.strike-2

According to Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) General Council Member Fizal Inderdat, the claims being made by GuySuCo are “unrealistic”.
“Based on figures that GuySuCo put forward to the Union, you find that they inflating them. When they say that they owe so much debt is not so much they owe. They say that they owe $89 billion, but is not $89 billion in solid cash they owe; when you check the liability of GuySuCo, with all the buildings that they have, it is $32 billion they owe…and the executive in GuySuCo, $339 million they drawing a year, and that is only for about 12 of them, so that is about $48 million a year one person getting, [but] still GuySuCo saying that they don’t have money,” he said.
For the first half of this year, Guyana experienced 3.2 per cent inflation. In 2015, GuySuCo paid $21.6 billion in wages. This year, it will pay some $19 billion as wages to its workers at seven estates – Skeldon, Albion, Rosehall, Uitvlugt, Enmore and Wales.
“That $2.5 billion could have come in and give the workers something. In order to give each worker one per cent increase, it will cost GuySuCo $181 million. We put in a proposal for eight per cent, but we are willing to negotiate with them,” the General Council Member noted.
Meanwhile, workers’ representative Stephen Inderdat opined that the workers are suffering and deserve a wage increase.
He said, “Look at the public servants, those people have received their benefits.

We are not saying that they should not have, they are working class people; we in the sugar also deserve more than what we have here.”
At the other Berbice estates, there was no grinding as work also came to a standstill.

Wales strike
Meanwhile, several workers of Wales Sugar Estate, West Bank Demerara, on Thursday morning gathered at the factory gate, where they downed tools to protest unpaid wage increases and severance packages.
Workers informed this publication that they would not perform duties for the remainder of this week and were prepared to withhold their services for an extended period if they were not paid increases as other categories of public servants.
“GuySuCo [has] money to pay, because they using $1.5 billion to make a road from here to Uitvlugt and they budget $500 million for diversification,” the Wales Field Secretary explained.
Nonetheless, the protesting workers related that they were uncertain of their future and that of their families, as they have received official word on the diversification plans for Wales.
“Since we understand that the Wales Estate gan close this year-end, we want to know what time we gan receive our severance,” a worker expressed.
Many workers said that they had no intention of transferring to Uitvlugt Estate, as was offered by GuySuCo.
“We ain’t going no Uitvlugt; I employ a Wales Estate and will remain a Wales Estate,” another worker declared.
Some even decried the earnings of GuySuCo’s Board.
GAWU President Komal Chand late Thursday confirmed that the majority of workers supported the one-day strike action. Guyana Times, however, understands that workers at the Uitvlugt Estate did not fully support the move.
It was only last year that GuySuCo had claimed that it was not going to address the issue of wage increases for workers until 2017. However, when GAWU met with the Sugar Corporation to commence discussions, GuySuCo deferred the date for increases to 2020.

Peters Hall man killed during robbery

– 1 in custody

A 42-year-old man is now dead after he was shot by armed bandits who stormed a family gathering at Herstelling, East Bank Demerara (EBD), during which an overseas-based family was also robbed.

Dead: Ameer Khan

Dead: Ameer Khan

Dead is Ameer Subrati of Peter’s Hall, EBD. The man was shot to the back of his neck sometime around 02:00h on Thursday when five men, two of whom were armed with handguns, pounced on the family and escaped with an undisclosed sum of cash, three cellular phones and other items.
The injured man was picked up and rushed to the Diamond Diagnostic Centre and was subsequently transferred to the Georgetown Public Hospital (GPHC) where he underwent surgery. Although doctors listed him as being in stable but critical condition, the man died sometime after midday on Thursday.
According to reports, Subrati’s brother and his family came into the country on Tuesday and as such, he along with others would usually keep their company at the Lot 320 Third Street, Herstelling residence.
Speaking with Guyana Times shortly after Subrati’s death, the visiting sister-in-law, Amika Appiah, related that sometime around 02:00h, she decided to take a shower in the outdoor bathroom, leaving her husband upstairs and some other relatives in front of the yard.
“I came down to go to shower and one of the bandits step out from the bathroom, pointing a gun at me and whispered something but I didn’t hear what. When I realised what was happening, I screamed and then the four rushed out from the (adjoining) toilet,” she recalled.
The woman said that upon hearing her scream, her husband rushed down the back steps and the (four) others at the back were shouting “shoot him, shoot him” to the one that was holding her at gunpoint. She added that she then fell down and the other relatives rushed to the back.
“(Relatives) rushed into the bandits, who start firing bullets; I guess that’s when Ameer got shot,” the woman stated, while continuing that during this time, she along with the other relatives managed to run into hiding, while her husband ran back into the house and secured himself.
Appiah added that it seemed as though the robbery was “hatched” since the gunmen were specific about what they wanted.
“It seemed that it’s (my husband) and I they were targeting… They were asking for the white bag, which was my bag with everything inside (passports, travel documents, cash, jewellery, etc)… They went upstairs, took the bag and came back down, firing about four shots again before existing through the front gate.
But they gain entrance through the back because we were in front all the time and they were waiting for us. I guess they somehow knew we went down late to shower the first night but they didn’t expect the relatives would retaliate,” the woman pointed out.
Residents in the street told the victims that the men were seen running in the southern direction over a bridge into ‘Bell City’ – a squatting area locating in neighbouring Farm.
According to the traumatised victims, they believe that the robbery was set up by tenants – a couple occupying the lower flat of the house, since they would have known about the time they showered the night before and what colour her bag is. Moreover, Appiah noted that while all five of the perpetrators were masked, her husband managed to recognise one of them as the brother of one of the female tenants.
“I think that’s the one that had the gun on me because my husband said when he came down the backstep, that’s the person that was over me with the gun. And he did not do us anything because he knew us but the ones (four gunmen) at the back were telling him to shoot. He didn’t shoot, it was the one at the back with the gun who opened fire,” the woman stated.
The overseas-based victim went on to relate that on Wednesday, the downstairs apartment was locked from the outside but the tenant’s brother and a female were locked inside all day unknown to them.
“We had no idea the two of them were locked in that house all day. When the wife (tenant) came in, she opened the door and came out with a bag of clothes along with those two. They called a cab and left just like that so I guess they knew what was going to happen that night,” Appiah remarked.
She noted that after they returned from the hospital just over an hour after the robbery, the tenants were back at the house and upon seeing the Police, the male tenant scaled the fence and hid in the neighbour’s yard. Nevertheless, he was arrested and taken into custody, assisting with the investigations.
The victims’ family claims that the Police have been harassing them while preferential treatment is being given to the suspect and his family. They are fearful that the suspect would be released and another attacked would be carried out on the visiting family.

ExxonMobil’s top brass says Guyana prospects justify continued exploration

ExxonMobil’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Rex Tillerson, confirmed on Wednesday the company’s commitment to exploration and said this year’s deep-water oil discovery off Guyana would be “easily” viable for development at today’s prices.

The ExxonMobil’s top brass was at the time addressing the Oil and Money conference, currently being held in London, United Kingdom with the participation of executives from major oil and gas companies from across the world.

Held under the theme ‘Boom, Bust and Beyond: Strategies for Survival’, Tillerson used the forum to downplay the reduction in frontier exploration by some majors companies and pointed to its discovery off Guyana, which was announced in June and holds resources estimated at 800 million to 1.4 billion oil equivalent barrels.

The fundamentals of long-term demand for new resources, equivalent to “five Saudi Arabias” over the next 25 years, justified continued exploration, he said.

The ExxonMobil CEO did use the opportunity to point to the lack of a supply chain in Guyana, but countered saying it was something the industry was experienced in overcoming and would deal with.

“We’re going to continue… the vibrant exploration programmes that are identifying new large resource opportunities,” Tillerson said.

“Yes [Guyana] is a deepwater development, but I can tell you that development is very viable at today’s prices, easily. We already know so much in terms of how to develop these kinds of resources and we’re taking advantage of market conditions,” Tillerson said, referring to ExxonMobil and its partners in Guyana, US upstream company Hess and China’s state-controlled CNOOC.

“The fact that it is greenfield, it’s in a nation that has little to no capacity to produce anything that we need and so on, we have learnt how to do this.”

The resource estimate for the find offshore Guyana follows the much-watched drilling of the Liza-2 well, the second exploration well in the Stabroek block, which ExxonMobil operates with a 45 per cent stake.

The well found more than 190 feet (58 metres) of oil-bearing sandstone reservoirs after drilling to 5475 metres in 1692 metres of water.

In announcing recently that ExxonMobil’s exploratory well offshore Guyana named SkipJack had turned up dry, the company said it will continue with plans to develop the Liza well with its declared capacity of approximately one billion barrels and also look for other possible targets for drilling.

The SkipJack was spud on July 17, 2016, but turned up dry.

ExxonMobil’s Liza 3 spud on September 4 and, like its predecessor Liza 2, the well will focus on testing the flank of the Liza structure to determine the aerial extent of the reservoir.

Liza 2 hit more than 190 feet of net pay and caused ExxonMobil, along with partners Hess and CNOOC subsidiary Nexen, to boost their estimate of the recoverable oil in place at Liza to 800 million to 1.4 billion barrels of oil equivalent.

In July, ExxonMobil submitted a development plan for Liza to Guyana’s Environmental Protection Agency to begin the environmental review process.

That plan calls for a pair of rigs to drill development wells from two drill centres, each with a corresponding water injection site to the East.

Production will be sent to an FPSO with capacity of around 100,000 barrels of oil per day.

Under that plan, first production from the field would come online sometime in 2020 or as late as 2021.

Gunmen rob rice farmer, family

A rice farmer and his family were left traumatised after bandits on Wednesday carried out a daring robbery in their rice field in Crane, West Coast Demerara.

Rice farmer Ramkissoon Ramnarine and his wife, Indira, recounting the terrifying ordeal of being robbed at gunpoint on Wednesday

Rice farmer Ramkissoon Ramnarine and his wife, Indira, recounting the terrifying ordeal of being robbed at gunpoint on Wednesday

The farmer, Ramkissoon Ramnarine; his wife, Indira and their 26-year-old special needs daughter reside in Canal Number One Polder, West Bank Demerara; however, on the morning of the incident, the mother and daughter were resting in hammocks under a makeshift shed when the gunmen attacked.

According to information gathered, the two men pulled up alongside the shed on a motorcycle, got off and approached the trio. One of the men, who was said to be dreadlocked, reportedly pulled out a gun from his waist and ordered the rice farmer and his family not to raise an alarm.

The family told Guyana Times that the man picked up the bags which were under the makeshift shed and ran back to the motorcycle where his accomplice was waiting. The two men then rode away.

“I was ploughing some rice land and one workman was sitting not too far from the camp; one of the persons from de motorbike run under de shed, pull out a gun and he scramble me wife’s three bags and he escape on the bike where a next guy was waiting for him,” the distraught farmer noted.

Ramnarine further told this publication that the bags contained $90,000 in cash, medications for his wife and daughter, cosmetics, as well as his driver’s licence and Identification Card.

The man said this was the third time that he has been robbed. He revealed that it was during their first encounter with bandits in 1995 that his daughter stopped speaking. Ramnarine added that his wife was unwell.

“Meh wife is a sickly person; she had all she medication in one [bag],” the farmer noted. The Police were contacted and have since launched an investigation into the matter.

Crime has drastically increased in the Vreed-en-Hoop area over the last few months, with 20 robberies being recorded in a one-week period. In response, acting Commander of D Division (West Demerara), Leslie James had met with concerned residents and businesspeople and he had committed to providing more Police ranks and patrols in the area.

Armed bandits storm party spot, rob customers

Although more Police ranks were deployed to patrol the area, another brazen robbery was carried out at Vreed-en-Hoop, West Coast Demerara (WCD). Guyana Times was told that on Tuesday evening at around 19:30h, two armed men pounced on the Sun Beam Hangout Bar, New Road, Vreed-en-Hoop.

Another business robbed in the Vreed-en-Hoop, WCD

Another business robbed in the Vreed-en-Hoop, WCD

Reports are the two armed men entered the bar under the pretext of wanting to purchase cigarettes. However, shortly after making the purchase, the two men whipped out their guns and demanded that everyone remain silent and that they hand over their valuables. Manager at the facility, Yodeshwar Chetram, explained that the bandits demanded cash and alcohol.

“The two guys purchased a $100 Bristol and when they came out back outside, they had the customers already at gunpoint,” the eyewitness pointed out.

After they robbed the customers of their cash and other valuables, the two men proceeded to enter the bar and further demanded cash as well as a quantity of alcohol.

Reports are that the bandits made good their escape in a white Toyota 212 car which was heavily tinted.This publication was told that a total of $60,000 in cash and the keys to a motorcar were taken from the customers. The Police were called and later launched an investigation into the robbery. However, up to press time, no arrests had been made.

Late September, two bandits invaded the Players Bar at Crane Old Road, WCD where they reportedly stole $150,000 in cash from the business before making good their escape on two red CG motorcycles. The female shopkeeper noted that it was only one week prior (on September 18) that four bandits, two of whom were armed with guns, stormed the same bar, and had made off with her gold chain, mobile phone and $35,000 cash from the bar.

On September 26, Digicel’s Vreed-en-Hoop outlet was robbed after three gunmen escaped with a quantity of the company’s mobile phones.

Additionally, the RH Value Supermarket at New Road, Vreed-en-Hoop, was also robbed and the female proprietor had noted that bandits grabbed her by the throat and pulled a gun on her son before they made off with $200,000 cash and $50,000 in phone cards.

Crime woes trigger Private Sector response

… to continue lobbying for VAT exemption on security equipment – GCCI

Escalating security woes across the country have triggered a Private Sector-led confab aimed at bringing together stakeholders for a security engagement, even as business leaders question the statistics being released by the Guyana Police Force, which points to a 21 per cent decrease in crime.

GCCI President Vishnu Doerga and GCCI Junior Vice President Nicholas Boyer at the press conference on Wednesday

GCCI President Vishnu Doerga and GCCI Junior Vice President Nicholas Boyer at the press conference on Wednesday

The Georgetown Chamber of Commerce (GCCI) will on Wednesday formally open its inaugural Security Forum and Expo, where, according to GCCI President Vishnu Doerga, an opportunity will be afforded to the several stakeholders to provide security proposals and solutions, including the tackling of cyber threats.

Speaking to the genesis of the security confab, GCCI Junior Vice President Nicholas Boyer, who also chairs the entity’s Security Sub-Committee, spoke of the fact that security provisions now take up a significant portion of a business’ operational expenses.

The seminar, he said, is an activity to demonstrate to companies, those who have solutions to make lives and businesses more secure.

GCCI President Doerga during a media engagement at the entity’s Waterloo Street, Georgetown, office on Thursday, spoke to the fact that security concerns rank high when it comes to potential investors making a decision to do business in Guyana.

He used the occasion to lament that Guyana still ranks as one of the more unattractive places for doing business internationally and security concerns did form a key element of any investment decision.

Doerga said it is for this very reason the GCCI was looking to showcase to its membership what options are available to them with respect to making themselves and the business environment a safer one.

Security apparatus

He disclosed too that it is in this vein that the GCCI will continue to lobby the Administration to place a Value Added Tax (VAT) exemption of security apparatus to serve as an incentive to business people.

Doerga in making the pitch for VAT exemptions on security appliances pointed to the use of efficient Closed Circuit Televisions systems which have recently been aiding the Guyana Police Force more and more in the apprehension of, and prosecution of criminals – many of whom would have committed armed robberies on local businesses.

Meanwhile, on the matter of the recent reportage by the Guyana Police Force that crime was in fact down by 21 per cent, the GCCI representatives questioned the accuracy of this and also pointed to the fact that there is a big difference between released statistics and public perception.

Doerga told media operatives that members of the GCCI only recently met with officials in the public security spectra and the matter of the Police statistics was raised.

The situation, according to Doerga, is compounded by the fact that there is significant under reporting of criminal activities.

He said an objective analysis of the under reporting could not be had at this time since any such would only be a ‘guesstimate.’

Boyer told media operatives that the GCCI was also unaware of the methods used by the Guyana Police Force to compile its statistics, and as such, could not give an informed opinion on its accuracy.

Doerga told media operatives that in many cases, it is possible to be assured and still fearful.

He pointed to members of the business community being presented with statistics pointing to a decrease in crime, only to be confronted with the news in the dailies – documenting incidents such as the recent robbery at a supermarket at Diamond Housing Scheme, East Bank Demerara.

Doerga said in his meetings with potential investors, among the concerns was the matter of security and the security of their investments.

On the matter of the Police’s response to crime locally, Doerga contended that there has been some positive movement.

“All of us would want this to happen much faster but this is the reality of what we’re dealing with,” said Doerga.

He said the GCCI is heartened by some of the positive movements witnessed, such as action being taken against rogue Police ranks.

Security confab

Meanwhile, on the matter of the active participation of its membership with respect to exploring different security solutions including cyber threats, Doerga told media operatives, “one can only lead a horse to water, we created the event and it’s up to them to take advantage.”

The GCCI’s inaugural Security Forum and Expo will be hosted throughout Friday at the Roraima Duke Lodge in Kingston, Georgetown.

The Chamber is of the view that security concerns continue to rank high as a barrier to investment, and in response to this, it has organised “this important event as a means of empowering business owners to be proactive in safeguarding themselves against criminal threats.”

The Chamber said it recognises the growing need for business owners to gain knowledge on security strategies, and has put together an impressive array of notable speakers, industry experts and security professionals who will deliver information packed presentations on the latest trends.

The Security Forum and Expo is slated to cover both traditional concerns in addition to cyber security.

Infrastructure Ministry overpaid, now unable to recover hundreds of millions

The Public Infrastructure Ministry has been found to be in the habit of making multiple advance payments to contractors in breach of stipulated contractual obligations and has been unable to recover the hundreds of millions of dollars paid for works not completed or abandoned altogether.

Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson

Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson

These findings are outlined in the 2015 Auditor General’s report compiled under the hand of Auditor General Deodat Sharma and recently made public by Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Barton Scotland.

Corrupt practices

Sharma, in his findings with regard to the Public Infrastructure Ministry, observed that a contract to the value of $468.2 million was awarded for preparatory road works to be undertaken between Better Hope and Montrose, East Coast Demerara (ECD).

The contract was terminated by the Ministry in July 2012, citing a breach in the contractual obligations with regard to “Corrupt or Fraudulent Practices” by the contractor, as recommended by the Attorney General, however, “at the time of this report in September 2016, there was no evidence to confirm that the Ministry was able to recover the sum of $81.5 million, which represents the contractor’s indebtedness.”

The contractor sued the Government for wrongful termination of contract, and that matter was before the High Court.

Multiple payments

Meanwhile, as it relates to the road works to be undertaken between La Bonne Intention (LBI) and Beterverwagting, East Coast Demerara (ECD), not only was the contractor overpaid and the Ministry still unable to recover its monies, but it was found that the contractor had, in fact, received three advance payments in contravention of the contract agreement.

Sharma also found that a physical verification check carried out on that project revealed that while there were variations made to the original scope of works, it appeared that the site was in fact abandoned, “with no equipment or personnel from the contractor on site”.

The three advance payments totalled $264.1 million, which represents 76 per cent of the contract sum.

The contract, however, “only allows for an advance payment of 50 per cent… This is a breach of contract where the contractor was paid advances greater than that which is allowed for under the contract.”

Compounding the situation further, Sharma found that at the time of reporting, a valuation of the works completed was $157.7 million; “however, the actual payments made to the contractor totalled $278.3 million.”

As such, the Auditor General concluded that the contractor received excess payments totalling $120.6 million.

Expired bonds

The Auditor General found too that while the contractor submitted bonds for the respective advance payments, “it was noted that all three advance bonds expired since 2014 and the advance payments were not recovered at the time of the reporting.”

According to Sharma, as a result of the expiration of the bond, the Ministry is solely dependent on the contractor to repay the outstanding amounts.

“This bond should have still been valid at the time of the physical verification; as a result of this expiration, the Ministry can no longer recover the amount of $35 million covered by this bond.”

The Ministry has since responded to the Auditor General, saying it “has written the contractor many times requesting that restitution be made for the outstanding sum of $120.6 million… To date the contractor has not repaid any of the amounts owed”.

Auditor General Sharma found too that with regard to road works to be undertaken between Beterverwagting and Triumph, ECD, at the time of reporting, the works were incomplete and the site appeared to be abandoned.

Sharma has since managed to deduce that the contractor, in this instance, also received three advance payments, this time totalling $209.6 million, representing 65 per cent of the contract sum.

This situation persisted, despite the fact that the contract only allowed for an advance payment of 50 per cent.

“This is a breach of contract where the contractor was paid advances greater than that which is allowed for under the contract,” Sharma stated.

He found too that the contractor submitted only one advance bond for the first advance payment of $174.5 million and this bond expired since 2014, while none was seen for the second advance payment issued to the contractor.

Sharma said too in his report that at the time of reporting, a valuation of the works completed put their value at $77 million.

As such, “the contractor received excess payments totalling $132.6 million at the time of the physical verification.”


The Ministry has since confirmed knowledge of the expiration of the security bonds, in addition to the fact that it had substantially overpaid the contractor monies which it was still to recover.

“The agreed completed value of works was $77 million and the total payments made to the contractor were $209.6 million.”

The Ministry confirmed that the contractor has received excess payments totalling $132.6 million, and pointed out that it has since “written the contractor many times requesting that restitution be made for the outstanding sum of $132.6 million …To date, the contractor has not repaid any of the amounts owed.”

Another troubling section of the road project that has since proven to be problematic for the Ministry surrounds the stretch of road between Triumph and Mon Repos, ECD. According to the Auditor General, the contract expired on June 17, 2015 and at the time of reporting, the works were incomplete and the site appeared to have been abandoned. Sharma said no equipment or personnel from the contractor were on site and further, “the advance payment was not fully recovered at the time of reporting”. The advance payment bond had expired in December 2015 and as a result, the amount of $14.8 million was outstanding at the time of reporting in September 2016. Sharma pointed out too that the performance bond no longer provided the required period of coverage for the works, and “as a result of this expiration, the Ministry can no longer recover the amount of $32.9 million covered by this bond”.

GRA’s billion-dollar container scanners inoperable

…as warehouse dishonesty points to massive tax evasion – Audit Report

The Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) in the past five years purchased two container scanners to improve its


The now inoperable GRA container scanner

monitoring capabilities at a cost of over US$6 million, but one is currently not operational and is, in fact, unserviceable, while the other touted as a mobile device will now have to find a stationary resting place to be shielded from the elements of weather.
The startling state of affairs was uncovered by Auditor General Deodat Sharma, who during the course of auditing the national books for 2015, found that both of the container scanners were posing problems for the GRA administration.
The 2015 Audit Report was made public this past week by Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Barton Scotland, when he reconvened the sittings of the Assembly.
According to Sharma in his report, in May 2010, the Administration acquired an electronic container scanner at a cost of US$1 million for the purpose of 100 per cent container scanning.
The scanner, which was placed into operation in May 2011, was three years later determined to be inoperable on October 18, 2014.
This was said to be due to a loss of power to the device’s electrical cabinet.
The Auditor General, during the course of his audits, found too that another scanner, which was acquired in November 2013 at a total cost of US$5.3 million and placed into operation on January 4, 2014, also became inoperable on June 18, 2016.
At the time of the report being released in September of this year, “the position remained the same”.
Sharma in his audit report has provided an explanation proffered by the GRA, which said the “first scanner is unserviceable and is not cost-effective to repair”.
With regard to the mobile scanner, the GRA informed the audit office that this one “malfunctioned because of its constant exposure to the weather conditions”.
According to answers provided by the GRA, “the scanner was repaired, but currently the Authority is in the process of identifying a permanent location” for it.
The Audit Office has since recommended that the GRA continue in its efforts to identify a suitable location for the scanner that would protect it from the rigours of nature.

Warehouse corruption
The Auditor General has also flagged several incidents of dishonesty at warehouses across the country which has led to instances where the payment of duties and taxes could not be verified to the tune of more than $100 million.
Sharma, in his 2015 report on the accounts held by the GRA, found that there were 34 private warehouses in operation during the period under review – 17 of which were subjected to physical inspections by the Audit Office between April and July this year.
The Audit Office, during the course of its investigations, found that 36 pieces of equipment and 17 vehicles valued in total $370.9 million were not found in five warehouses operated by one importer, and there was no evidence that the equipment and vehicles were released by the tax administration.
Compounding the situation, the Auditor General further found that there was no evidence that duties and taxes of approximately $89.7 million were paid.
According to the Auditor, “Section 100 of the Customs Act, Chapter 82:01 prohibits a warehouse owner or keeper or any person in his employ from opening or gaining access to a warehouse except in the presence or with the knowledge and consent of an officer of the administration.”
The Auditor General highlighted too that a total of 44 pieces of equipment valued at $312 million, with estimated taxes payable totalling $50 million, were removed from four warehouses in which they were deposited and transferred to another four without the permission of the GRA Commissioner General.
“The removal of warehoused goods from one warehouse to another without the permission or knowledge of the Commissioner General represents a breach of Section 115 of the Customs Act,” the Audit Office said.
Further checks revealed that 10 pieces of equipment and five vehicles physically verified in three warehouses were not traced to the warehouse registers maintained by the administration.
“Efforts to ascertain the value of the equipment and vehicles proved futile, since it could not be determined the year the items were warehoused and the Cost, Insurance and Freight (CIF) of each piece of equipment and vehicle.”