$228M Ministry of Finance annex 90% complete – Dr Singh – after multiple rounds of reworking contract inherited by APNU/AFC

The $228 million Ministry of Finance annex at Winter Place and Croal Street, an incomplete and defective project that the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) inherited from the former A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government, is now 90 per cent complete.
This was reported by the Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Dr Ashni Singh. He was optimistic that the building can be completed and ready for occupancy this year.
“It would be recalled that this was an incomplete project that we met when we came into office. We have had a number of challenges regarding the contractual arrangements surrounding this building.”
“We have had to do multiple rounds of reworking to bring this back into a position where this building can be completed. We anticipate that this building will be completed this year. And it is our intention to start to bring the building into use this year.”
He noted that based on their estimation, the building is 90 per cent complete. However, he noted that it is still too early to definitively state which departments from the Ministry will be housed in the annex.
“That matter is still under active consideration and a final determination has not been made on it,” the Minister further explained, in response to a question posed by APNU Member of Parliament Volda Lawrence about the departments destined for the building.
Back in 2018 when the sod was turned at the location, the site of the former sports club of the Guyana National Cooperative Bank (GNCB), it had been reported that the annex would house the Ministry’s training room, a sports complex, a gym and the Camp Street valuation office. It was also reported that the building would be finished by year-end.
Instead of a finished building, however, the Audit Office of Guyana had flagged various discrepancies with the contract, including approved payments for incomplete work. In his 2019 report, Auditor General Deodat Sharma had noted that an advance payment of $64.5 million was made to the contractor in 2017.
But by December 31, 2019, $26.5 million out of that advance was still not recovered. Further, the Auditor General had revealed that the bond provided for this remaining balance had expired in December 2019.
“No details regarding the advertisement and duration for submission of bids were presented for audit examination; however, based on documents seen, it was noted that a total of sixteen bids were received on 18 July 2017,” the Audit report said.
“The contract was signed on 20 December 2017 for $191.6 million, with the duration of twelve months for completion and a Defects Liability Period of twelve months. As of 31 December 2019, the contractor received payments amounting to $182.8 million.”
The Auditor General had reported that physical verification by his office on October 2, 2020, revealed that the works were incomplete and only the contractor’s foreman was present on the site. No works were in progress at the time, even though the newly revised completion date of June 30, 2020, had long expired.
“Further, our assessment of the works completed at the time of our verification revealed that the contractor already received payments for works which are incomplete and in most instances which had not even commenced,” the Auditor General had said.
In all, a total of $12.6 million in overpayments was flagged by the Audit Office. Not only that, but the evaluation report for the contract had not been approved by all the evaluators. Instead, only one evaluator had approved the issuance of the contract to the contractor.
In fact, the contract price was another discrepancy flagged by the Auditor General, since the contract signed was for $191.6 million, but the APNU/AFC Cabinet no objection at the time had been for $228 million.