PAC recommends Police investigate former APNU/AFC engineer

– recommendation receives bipartisan support

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has recommended that former Government Engineer Dannie Ramdolar be investigated by the Police after he allegedly perjured himself before the Committee at its statutory meeting on Monday.

Former Public Security Ministry Engineer Dannie Ramdolar

Ramdolar, who left the employ of the then Public Security Ministry in June of 2021, was questioned by the PAC regarding various findings by the Auditor General in his 2017 and 2018 Reports.
For instance, the civil engineer was asked about a project to renovate the Mazaruni Prison, that saw a contractor being overpaid almost $900,000. Ramdolar, who said that he looked over all the projects during his time at the Ministry, admitted that errors were made.
“The accounting officer at the time and all the other superiors there, relied singularly on your advice. If the Auditor General did not pick up this project, it could very well mean that this would not have been seen as an overpayment and the Government (would have) lost in terms of value for money… we cannot keep accepting genuine error. We have to understand what is the issue,” Mahipaul said.
Ramdolar was further questioned about a contract for revetment works at the Lusignan Prison, which also resulted in overpayments. Specifically, the contractor was supposed to renovate a self-acting sluice at the western section of the prison, a $4.6 million contract.
According to the Auditor General in his 2018 report, it was found that the works were certified by the engineer as completed since December 16, 2018. However, when the Audit Office examined the project on May 3, 2019, it was revealed that the contractor was still on-site affecting works. It was the Auditor General’s finding that the works were therefore falsely certified.
During questioning, Ramdolar, who admitted to being responsible for overlooking all the projects, claimed that the works were remedial in nature. But his answers failed to satisfy the PAC. In fact, his responses were not supported by what the Auditor General found.
“Payments were made for additional works, which was the fabrication and installation of a metallic self-acting (sluice) door as indicated. And in our engineer’s report which we have as our records, I’m looking at the structure here. There is a slot for the door to be installed, but the door isn’t there. So, I can tell you offhand that that, in particular, wasn’t there,” one Auditor explained.
Despite being warned by PAC Chairman Jermaine Figueira that misleading the committee is a breach of the Legislative Bodies (Evidence) Act, Chapter 1:08, Ramdolar maintained that he stands by what he said. Finance Secretary Sukrishnalall Pasha advised that the engineer could be surcharged, based on the AG’s findings.
“Based on what I see in the audit report, where the engineer falsified the certificate, and in my opinion, that is criminal. Unless the language used by the AG could be interpreted to mean something different to my interpretation. This particular instance, there is justification for surcharging the engineer,” Pasha said.
According to Figueira, who called the news disturbing, the engineer appears to have misled the PAC. He made it clear that this was unacceptable. This view received bipartisan support, with both PAC member and Public Works Minister Juan Edghill and PAC member Ganesh Mahipaul, supporting a criminal investigation.
“If the officer stands by his words, as a member of the PAC, I am making a request that this committee adopt a process that the FS refers this matter for a criminal investigation,” Edghill said.
“If I may be permitted, on the basis of the officer maintaining that he stands by his word and given that we are witnessing difference in terms of information coming from him and the Audit Office, I’d like to second the request made by comrade Bishop, for this matter to be referred to the Finance Secretary and an investigation be meted out,” Mahipaul said.
Ramdolar was also asked to recuse himself from further proceedings, while Figueira subsequently requested that the Audit Office collaborate with the Finance Secretary on having the matter investigated by the Police.