CJIA’s value for money audit on hold

first_img…as AG awaits documents from Infrastructure MinistryThe Audit Office of Guyana (AOG) probe of the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) and whether the modifications to the design are bringing value for money, is presently awaiting documents from the Government in order to even start the audit.Auditor General Deodat SharmaThis was explained by Auditor General Deodat Sharma in an interview with this publication on Saturday. According to Sharma, the office needs the documents from the Ministry of Public Infrastructure in order to properly plan the audit.“CJIA, we’re still awaiting documents so that we can commence. We have not gotten the vouchers and documents as yet. So I can’t determine a timeline for that, until we get the documents and copies of the vouchers, I’ll be able to plan the audit,” Sharma said.According to the Auditor General, they are awaiting these items from the Public Infrastructure Ministry. He noted that among other things, they have to check the building specifications for the airport.“We have to get that from the actual vouchers. The (Permanent Secretary) PS had written me and said he would submit it shortly, but I have not gotten it as yet,” Sharma added.The Permanent Secretary in question is Kenneth Jordan, who has a history when it comes to the Ministry providing documents to the AG. The Audit Office has previously had to complain over documents for its probe into D’Urban Park not being handed over.It was Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Chairman Irfaan Ali who had requested further probing be done by the Auditor General into specific projects. Among those projects was the D’Urban Park Project, for which the AG in his 2015 report listed some $36.5 million in Lotto funds being used for rehabilitative works.Ali had stated that these requests were in relation to follow-ups from the findings that had been included in the AG’s 2015 Report. In his 2015 report, the Auditor General had said that from following checks on the accounts, it was found that while Government transferred $1 billion of the Lotto money to the Consolidated Fund in 2015, it held onto just over half a billion dollars to remain under the control of the Ministry of the Presidency and it spent $305 million on various activities.But the audit into the D’Urban Park Project has always been hindered by a lack of access to pertinent information, with the Audit Office being forced to write to the Public Infrastructure Ministry requesting documents. It was this year that the Ministry claimed that vouchers were delivered to the Audit Office since 2017.CJIAIn 2012, under the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Administration, Guyana secured a US$138 million loan from the China Exim (Export-Import) Bank to fund the expansion and modernisation project, for which the Guyana Government was slated to inject some US$12 million.Upon completion, the airport is expected to have four air passenger boarding bridges for arrivals and departures, a 450-seat departure area, escalators and elevators, in addition to an extended runway catering for larger categories of aircraft.But the parliamentary Opposition has always contended, and documents showed, that the airport expansion has been downsized. In addition, the former administration has contended that for a fixed price contract, the airport specifications should have remained the same.In a public post this year responding to assertions from his successor, former Public Works Minister Robeson Benn had denied claims that the project was not supervised in its early stages and had thrown his support behind calls for “a full-fledged public investigation” into the project.Benn had also questioned how a fixed price contract was allowed to deviate to such an extent. He had pointed out that there have been extensive modifications to the project, with the plans for a new stand-alone New Terminal Building being changed to an Arrival Hall addition to the old Terminal Building.He had also noted that instead of eight bridges, Guyana was only getting four. Benn had also observed that the mezzanine floor with escalators to a Viewing Gallery had been cut out from the construction, and the building’s footprint and actual total square footage are now less than what was contracted for.last_img