Last Updated on Saturday, 17 December 2016, 10:04 by Derwayne Wills
Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo believes government will return to the National Assembly to request hundreds of millions of dollars more to write-off debts to contractors owed by Homestretch Development Inc (HDI) for the D’Urban Park Development Project.
Already, government has expended some $450M from April 2016, and will spend a further $500M in 2017 on D’Urban Park, which was shrouded in secrecy from its inception since government had refused to name private investors in the project.
Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson told the National Assembly in the Committee of Supply recently that the $500M in 2017 will be transferred directly to the company to pay off its debts to creditors.
“If you add the list,” Jagdeo told the press corps referring to the published list of creditors owed for work on the project, “you would see the liabilities would be over $800M; not $500M. And we anticipate they’ll come back for more monies soon.”
Patterson revealed earlier this month to the National Assembly that HDI’s donations drive from lobbying the private sector in 2015 only amounted to $60M in cash and kind for the project which could now cost $1.2B.
“Imagine spending $900M of taxpayers money without any public tender. If we (PPP in government) spend $10M, and we didn’t have public tender, you would hear the big outcry of corruption,” Jagdeo told the press.
The D’Urban Park stadium, which was the main venue for Guyana’s 50th Independence celebrations, has been shrouded in secrecy since its inception after the David Granger administration entered office in 2015.
It wasn’t until January 2016 that HDI, a company set up with the government’s blessing, was registered with Education Minister Dr Rupert Roopnaraine named one of the company’s Board Directors considering Government’s special interest in the project.
A parliamentary motion last November brought by Opposition MP Juan Edghill in the National Assembly sparked an intense debate on the need for government to release the names of the financiers and other financial arrangements for D’Urban Park.
During that November debate, which saw a packed list of some 21 speakers, Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson stood in the House to finally name the directors of HDI’s Board, including Lawrence ‘Larry’ London who heads the Board.
Minister Patterson did not name his Cabinet colleague, Dr Rupert Roopnaraine, whose name was only released after the opposition PPP sourced the company’s registration document and released same to the public.
Patterson’s ministry had taken over the project in April 2016 investing hundreds of millions after it was found that HDI did not have the resources to complete the work in time for Guyana’s May 26 celebrations, and substandard work had been done at the site.