APNU / AFC Govt overcharged $ 166M to defective contractors in 2018 – Guyana Times
HomeTop StoriesAPNU / AFC Govt overpaid $ 166M to defective contractors in 2018
… Legal action taken to recover amount – Min Edghill
Throughout the Guyana Audit Office’s 2019 report, contractors were cited for receiving overpayments and not reimbursing the State. This has totaled over $ 166 million but Public Works Minister Juan Edghill has made it clear that all avenues, including legal action, will be followed to recover the sum if necessary. In an exclusive interview with this announcement, Minister Edghill was asked about the cases of unpaid overpayments that the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Government inherited from its predecessors.
“Wherever there are overpayments, the contractors have to bring in the money. If the contractor refuses, then we must pursue legal action. The issue of overpayments, once they occur, is about measurements and someone in the Ministry paying more than what was measured, ”said Edghill. In some cases, the Government of A Partnership for National Unity / Alliance for Change (APNU / AFC) had at the time received the assistance of the Ministry of Legal Affairs to recover the overpayments. According to Edghill, the Government will do the same if necessary. “Once the Auditor General finds that then the contractor has to pay it. And if the payment dispute arises, then we must seek legal liability and we will certainly engage with the Attorney General (Senior Counsel Anil Nandlall) to help in that regard, ”he said. Already, the Ministry of Legal Affairs has taken strong action on a number of contracts that the Government inherited from the previous Government – contracts that the contractor was not performing on. In November, it was revealed that on behalf of the Government, Nandlall had written various contractors informing them that their contracts were being terminated on the grounds that they had failed to complete the project in a timely manner and to work schedules. Contract overpayments, where payments are made but work not completed on schedule, has been a common theme in the Auditor General’s reports over the past few years. It is also an issue that is often dealt with at the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) level. For 2018, the Audit Report documented that, out of a total of $ 166 million in overpayments, various Ministries and departments overpaid contractors by as much as $ 92.3 million for the 2018 fiscal year. In 2019 the trend continued unabated, as the former Government was cited for overpaying some $ 166 million of taxpayer dollars in contracts. According to the Audit Report, a number of Ministries, departments and regions were guilty of this practice. For example, various Ministries and departments overpaid contractors as much as $ 92.3 million. The Ministry of Public Infrastructure, according to the report, accounted for $ 63.7 million. Meanwhile, $ 73.7 million was overpaid by regional administrations. Regions Two, Eight, Nine and 10 accounted for 70 percent of this amount. There was some good news on this, though. Auditor General Sharma noted in his 2019 report that in September 2019, $ 20 million was recovered. This, therefore, leaves $ 146 million remaining.