Former Ministers Patterson and Ferguson received over $6.7M in gifts from Harbour Bridge, other agencies
– included bed, iPads, computers and jewellery
Jan 21, 2021 , Source - https://www.kaieteurnewsonline...idge-other-agencies/
Kaieteur News had reported that former Public Infrastructure Minister, David Patterson, had received from the Demerara Harbour Bridge Corporation (DBHC) and the Asphalt Plant, gold jewellery valued at some $500,000 paid for by taxpayers’ dollars.
Public Works Minister, Juan Edghill.
The allegation was vehemently denied by Patterson but his tune changed after even more damning evidence came to the fore, showing that those were not the only agencies that he received expensive gifts from.
In a statement, Patterson deemed the reports against him “misleading and mischievous” and done with the intention of embarrassing him to further political advantage.
Patterson noted too that the “practice of giving memorabilia and other gifts” to Ministers is not a novel undertaking. He even reminded that Ministers from both sides of the political divide have been presented with gifts as well to mark special occasions.
Former Public Infrastructure Minister, David Patterson.
“In my case, at no time did I ever request, solicit or influence in any way the action of any agency in relation to the presentation of gifts to me or other officials of the government,” Patterson explained.
“I believe it is also necessary to state that I had no prior knowledge of any decision or details relating to the purchase or presentation of gifts to anyone, including myself,” he added.
The former Minister stated that he was under the assumption that the gifts being presented to him during his tenure were fully compliant with the procurement guidelines of the “giving agency.”
The standard policy directives stipulate how such matters should be handled as directed by Cabinet decision, by circular from the Ministry of Finance or by Board policy.
Former Junior Public Infrastructure Minister, Annette Ferguson.
Further on he said, “It has also come to my attention that it is further alleged that I received a number of electronic items, such as phones, iPads and laptops. This is absolutely untrue, and I categorically deny it.
Whoever fabricated this lie obviously does not know that for security and other reasons, I do not accept electronics of any kind from any agency, including the government, and I have always personally selected and purchased all electronic items I own. For instance, for this reason, I did not accept a mobile telephone offered by the Parliament to Ministers.”
But documents from the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA), the Maritime Administration Department (MARAD), the Transport and Harbour Department (T&HD), along with more from the Harbour Bridge paint a different picture.
And these were all the agencies under Patterson’s purview during his stint in office.
These documents were all presented to the media yesterday by Patterson’s successor, Public Works Minister, Juan Edghill.
Patterson and his gifts
Referencing Patterson’s statement, Minister Edghill said it is “barefaced” and merely contains words that lacked consistency. “He said I don’t wear jewellery but he was seen photographed wearing gold bands and so on,” Minister Edghill noted.
In total, according to the Public Works Minister, Patterson received from those agencies under his control a total of $2.664 million in gifts and personal effects.
Not only that, the purchase of the gifts spanned the five-year period during the Coalition’s tenure in office, and even included some that were purchased in 2020, during the five-month election impasse.
For several of his birthdays (May 4), the then Minister received multiple gifts from the various agencies under his purview.
In 2016, he received several gift items from MARAD with invoices stating that the payment was for “Gifts for Minister Patterson’s Birthday.”
In 2017, documents show that he received a band from the GGAA valued at $117,000 purchased from King’s Jewellery World. Included in that purchase was an additional US$90 for the addition of Patterson’s initials using 14K gold.
In August 2018, MARAD also approved payments for gift items for Patterson birthday valued at $243,000. Also in May 2018, he received gifts as well with vouchers spelling out payments of $76,818 and $300,000.
From the CJIA, in 2018, he also received a pen valued at $25,000 from King’s Jewellery World.
On May 6, 2019, Patterson was also said to have received another gift from King’s Jewellery World valued at $516,000.
Moving on to 2020 when the country was faced with the elections debacle, the then Minister received a host of gifts for his birthday celebration in May.
On May 4, 2020, documents show Patterson received a gift from MARAD valued at $$704,292. On the very same day another gift was presented valued at $387,486, both purchased from Steve’s Jewellery World by the very agency.
The T&HD also presented Patterson with a gift valued at $54,700 on the same date.
Household supplies and electronic gifts
It was not only Patterson who benefited from gifts, but his Junior Minister of Public Infrastructure, Annette Ferguson, did too.
In total, Ferguson received $1.4 million in gifts from the very agencies listed.
But it was not just jewellery. In fact, both Patterson and Ferguson, according to Minister Edghill received $6,757,015 in electronics and household materials all from the DHBC.
Those items, he explained, were not listed as asset registers but merely donations.
On the list of items he noted, two dell desktops computers valued at $387,222 were purchased for both Ministers along with Apple iPAD Airs priced at $213,750 each.
In addition to that, purchases were also made of televisions, printers, cocktail tables, hallway tables, rugs, safety boots, a bookshelf, two dell PC’s valued $164,600 each, along with a king-size bed set, a king-size mattress, a queen-size bed set and chest of drawers, Minister Edghill told media operatives.