Hope Canal cost more than publicly stated

Last Updated on Sunday, 12 June 2016, 10:34 by Denis Chabrol

The Hope Canal Project, which was piloted by the PPP government, is estimated to have cost $4.1 billion – over GYD$700 million more than the then Government had announced.

This was revealed in the audit report of the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA). The authority had also contributed over GYD$257 million towards the project which was substantively funded from the PetroCaribe Fund.

The report was compiled by Nigel Hinds Financial Services and was presented to the Ministry of Finance on November 30, 2015 and was made available on the Ministry’s website on Friday, June 10, 2016.

The Hope Canal, which was budgeted to cost GYD$3.6 millioj was completed in May of last year at a purported cost of GYD$3.4 nillion. The project had missed six deadlines and was delayed for two years.

While this project was extensively reported on by the media, using these figures, since the then Minister of Agriculture, Leslie Ramsammy had said that it was still within the estimated cost, the report revealed otherwise.

It stated that the cost of the project was actually over GYD$4.1 billion and that “deliberate efforts were made to understate the actual cost”.

While the auditors were able to arrive at this figure, they noted in the report that they were unable to compute the “actual cost” of the project due to their limitations in obtaining all the documentations required.

Notwithstanding the fact that they were presented with a situation where critical information was not available, the auditors maintained that it is reasonable to infer that the Project exceeded its original cost from the information gathered.

Additionally, the report revealed that fourteen super long-reach excavators were purchased between 2009 and 2012 for the Hope Canal Project at a cost GYD$441 million. It was noted though that the Finance Office shows that $466M were paid for thirteen excavators and one bulldozer between 2009 and 2012.

According to the report, no information was available for 2010, 2011 and 2015 and dates do not correspond with the information shown for the Hope Canal Project.

A list prepared by Finance Staff also showed that eighteen units of machinery were dedicated to the Hope Canal Project over the years of construction. Then an additional four units with an estimated value of $90M were added.Two Pick-ups were also purchased for GYD$8.4 millioj from Ainlim for the Hope Canal Project, but according to the auditors, registrations and invoices to verify ownership and cost were not available.

“Documents were not available to verify dates of acquisition and amounts paid for equipment purchased directly for Hope Canal Project” the audit report stated.