Last Updated on Thursday, 1 December 2016, 12:58 by Denis Chabrol
Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson expects the opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) to come good with its case to send him before Parliament’s privileges committee for statements made in the National Assembly on the D’Urban Park project and the company involved, but first the opposition must build evidence to support state-ownership of that company.
“We are trying to establish whether this is a private company or a state company,” Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo said last week at his press conference.
“If it is a private company, then there is no ground to take him before the [privileges] committee. But if it was the State, then there is grounds to take him before the privileges committee.”
Minister Patterson told Demerara Waves Online on Monday he stands by statements made in the Assembly that Homestretch Development Inc, the company which started work on the project from November 2015, is a private company.
“I’m saying bring it on,” the Minister said in confidence, “I do love a challenge so when the Opposition ready, I will be there.”
Homestretch Development Inc, formed in January 2016, is said to be a special-purpose company with Education Minister Dr Rupert Roopnaraine registered as a Director on that company’s Board.
The Opposition Leader is interested in knowing the arrangements between the state at the private company. “But are we saying in this era, it’s OK for ministers to be on private companies and don’t have to account for it,” Jagdeo questioned.
“[Minister] Rupert sat in parliament and never said a word and [Minister] Patterson never said his name,” Jagdeo commented last week about Minister Patterson calling out the names of the company’s Directors in the National Assembly. “Patterson was trying to mislead the country again.”
There are still unanswered questions about the D’Urban Jubilee Park initially built by Homestretch Development Inc but later taken over by the Public Infrastructure Ministry at a possible tune of $1B, according to Opposition Leader Jagdeo.
Revelations of the project were made in the National Assembly Monday following a parliamentary motion from Opposition MP Juan Edghill, who demanded government come clean on the financial arrangements surrounding D’Urban Park.
Edghill has since been summoned before the Parliament’s disciplinary body in connection with allegedly misleading the House in debating another motion that he had sponsored, a move the opposition People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) has labelled “revenge” for the decision for Norton to make a similar appearance.