Patterson had initially misled the public by claiming that the project had the blessings of an international lending agency, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
After being called out by the Parliamentary Opposition, the Minister admitted that the information he disseminated was inaccurate however he did not clarify where the funding came from.
The Auditor General Report however states that “Athe amount of $100M was allocated for the provision of a feasibility study for the new
Demerara Harbour Bridge crossing.”
The Report noted that as at 31 December 2016, amounts totalling $97.095M were expended. It is unclear what happened to the difference of some $3M.
The Dutch firm which conducted the study was chosen after the Government cancelled a tendering process whereby 22 legitimate companies had submitted bids for the project.
The PPP believes another major corruption is unfolding with the new Demerara River Crossing project given that a firm that did not tender for the design and feasibility was given the multimillion dollar contract.
Patterson had claimed that the 22 companies that tendered did not get the contract because the prices exceeded the IDB’s US$800,000 budget for the initiative and thus the process was annulled. However, as revealed in the AG Report, the monies for the project came from the public purse and therefore Patterson once again blatantly lied to the nation.
Interestingly, Opposition Leader, Mr. Bharrat Jagdeo had already called for the Minister to be sacked for lying to the nation about the availability of petroleum blocks offshore Guyana. Patterson insisted that all were given away under the former administration but Jagdeo has since proved, with reference to a map from the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC), that there are a number of blocks still available.
Jagdeo had warned that an elite group of coalition officials are forming companies to acquire exploration licences for these lucrative blocks and then resell for major profits.
Meanwhile, since Patterson lied about the IDB’s involvement, the Minister still has not explained why the legitimate tendering process was cancelled in favour of the Dutch firm.
Opposition Chief Whip Gail Teixeira has since written the Public Procurement Commission for an investigation to be immediately launched into the matter given that the Dutch firm LievenseCSO received the contract when it did not even tender.
However, the PPC had responded to their request and indicated that it will consider launching a probe only if it’s in the confines of its workload and available reaources.
Teixeira recently said the PPC’s response is scary given that this is a clear case that warrants an investigation and the body charged for conducting such a probe is not treating the matter with urgency.