Auditors unable to verify over $70M spent on D’Urban Park – 4 years later, report reveals
Jan 11, 2022 -- Source -- Kaieteur News Online -- https://www.kaieteurnewsonline...park-report-reveals/
Kaieteur News – The Audit Office of Guyana undertook a special audit in accordance with Section 26 of the Audit Act 2004, on the construction of the D’Urban Park Jubilee Stadium. An interim report was issued on December 7, 2018 and the findings have been reflected in the 2020 Auditor General’s report, some four years.
The $1B D’Urban Park project is currently in a dilapidated state and is slated to be the location for the new Central Fire Station.
The report outlined that the construction of the D’Urban Park project commenced in 2015 in preparation for the Co-operative Republic of Guyana’s 50th Independence Anniversary which was to be celebrated the following year.
A private company named Homestretch Development Inc. (HDI) was created to implement this Project. As at December 31, 2017, amounts totalling $1.150 billion were expended. However payment vouchers to support expenditure incurred by the Ministry totalling $70.610M were not produced for audit examination.
As such, auditors noted completeness, accuracy, and validity of this amount could not be determined. Moreover, the Audit Office has once again recommended that the Head of Budget Agency submit the outstanding payment vouchers for audit.
In addition, the amount of $500M was paid to HDI in 2017 by the Ministry to enable HDI to meet its obligation to its creditors. However, there was no documentation attached to the payment vouchers to indicate the works done, supervisory checks carried out on the works, as well as certification that the works were satisfactorily completed.
Only the list of HDI creditors and Government’s proposed payment allocation to each creditor was attached to the payment vouchers.
In the circumstances, the correctness, accuracy and validity of the payments made could not be determined.
Based on the report, Kaieteur News understands that the Audit Office had written the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Public Infrastructure on July 19, 2018, requesting documentation detailing the works done, supervisory checks of the said works, as well as certification that works were satisfactorily completed.
The Head of Budget Agency explained that the Ministry was not involved in the operations of HDI, hence, it did not have any information detailing supervisory checks or their methodology of determining that works were satisfactorily completed.
According to the report, on March 11, 2019, the Audit Office also made a request to the Ministry for additional documentation for the poject. Some documents have since been submitted to the Audit Office, which was being perused.
Back in 2018, auditors dug into the D’Urban Park project, one of the signature projects undertaken by the coalition Government shortly after the May 2015 elections. Several questions lingered about the more than $1B spent on the project, as auditors pursued critical information relating to the initial stages of the project.
Back then, the Ministry of Public Infrastructure (MPI) turned over some documents that auditors had sought for months, but more information is still required as auditors zero-in on payments made to HDI, a special purpose company that started initial works on the project.
HDI was dissolved and MPI took control of the project. During the time of HDI’s stint on the project, the Ministry of the Presidency was in control of the project, with Larry London as coordinator.
Toward the end of the examination of the project in 2018, the Audit Office once again recommended that the Head of Budget Agency engage the Guyana Police Force to conduct a comprehensive investigation into this issue, and a report submitted for audit.