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Govt to count losses ahead of legal action against Surendra Engineering

Health Minister Dr. Bheri Ramsarran (left) and Attorney General, Anil Nandlall referring to documents at the news conference on the Surendra Engineering Company Limited’s (SECL) contract for the construction of the Specialty Hospital.

The Ministry of Health’s engineering experts would first have to calculate how much Guyana would have lost as a result of alleged actions taken by the Indian contracting firm, Surendra Engineering Company Limited (SECL), in the construction of the Specialty Hospital at Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown before taking legal action.

“In all fairness to the contractor as well as to the project, there are works that have been completed. We will at some point in time, very shortly, we will have to go on the ground and measure the amount of work that has been completed so that we can get a fair estimation of how much we have lost if we have lost anything,” Attorney General, Anil Nandlall told a news conference.

Work on the project has halted at the stage of site-preparation and the driving of piles for the health care facility that government has said would offer advanced surgeries at costs much lower than those in North America, Europe and the Caribbean.

Government had paid US$4,285,440 or 23.5 percent of the contract sum to SEC that was paid in December, 2012. Of that amount US$3.6 million were mobilization advance and the remainder was for works executed.

He said government would sue SECL for alleged breach of contract, while police would be probing the submission of an allegedly forged document from the Central Bank of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago to show that a Port-of-Spain-based insurance company, Worldwide Insurers, was a legitimate company that had offered a bond for monies disbursed.

Nandlall was unaware that SECL has substantial assets that could be levied on. Government intends to terminate the contract, pursue legal action against the company for alleged fraud and recover public funds from SECL for which it has allegedly failed to account fully.

The Attorney General explained that government would sue SECL in Guyanese courts and have the judgment enforced in India through an agreement governing Commonwealth member states.

Nandlall said the Central Bank has since orally and formally confirmed that the document on its letterhead was forged and that there was no one named D. Singh working that financial regulator.

Minister of Health, Dr. Bheri Ramsarran alleged that SECL sought to acquire a second bond after the Guyana-based Caricom Insurance pulled out of the first arrangement in March 2014. Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health, Leslie Cadogan added that since then, no more monies have been paid to SECL although that company had submitted requests for payment.

Ramsarran said that it was when the Guyana government, sub-contractors and the supervisory contractor, Vikab Engineering, had begun receiving complaints about SECL’s failure to make certain payments although monies had been disbursed to that company. The Attorney General said that SECL had contended that it could not have paid its sub-contractors because government was not releasing any funds. “That is why we demanded that f you are not being able to pay your sub-contractors where is the documentation to substantiate how you spent the money that you had been given,” said the Minister of Health. He added that several contractors had complained to the government about alleged non-payment for work done.

Nandlall could not say whether Trinidad and Tobago police have been called in to probe the alleged forgery.

Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Roger Luncheon has said that SECL would likely be blacklisted from being awarded any future contracts based on stipulations in bid documents.