Govt wants $346.5M in additional funding

first_imgAfter cutting airport expansion budgetBy Vahnu ManikchandHaving used its combined one seat majority while in Opposition to cut over $10 billion in budgetary allocations to the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) Expansion project, the APNU+AFC Coalition Government has now moved to secure supplementary funds for the project.Government seeking funding for additional air bridges at CJIAAt Thursday’s sitting of the National Assembly, Government tabled a financial paper seeking $2.5 billion in supplementary funds, of which some $346.5 million will be injected towards the purchase and installation of two additional air bridges at CJIA.Following a parliamentary tour of the airport expansion works, Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson said the intention all along was to have four boarding bridges when the project is completed.“The contract has the two air bridges in it. I had always said we would make provision for an additional two…and I’ve made it clear that it was our intention on opening we would have four air bridges. So, the supplementary that you would’ve seen tabled is for the additional two,” Patterson stated.This move by the Coalition Government to construct additional air bridges comes on the heels of its having redesigned the airport expansion project upon assuming office.Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson during the Parliamentary site tour of the CJIA expansion (Carl Croker photo)The CJIA Expansion project was signed under the Peoples Progressive Party Government, with the Chinese Export/Import (EXIM) Bank granting US$138 million while Guyana put up US$12 million.However, when the APNU/AFC Government took office in 2015, the project was put on hold; but following discussions between Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson and the contractor, Chinese company China Harbour Engineering Corporation (CHEC), it was announced that the project would be continued. Among the redesigning elements was the reduction of the air bridges from eight to a mere two.The People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C), now in Opposition, has often criticised the Coalition Administration for redesigning the project, which was a fixed price design and build contract.Camouflaging transparencyIn fact, the Opposition boycotted the parliamentary tour, and its Public Infrastructure spokesperson, Juan Edghill, said in a statement on Wednesday that in additional to the site visit being a charade to camouflage transparency, it is also being orchestrated to lay the foundation for seeking addition funds from the nation’s purse.The Opposition Member of Parliament further reminded in his missive of the Coalition parties’ “hostile, diatribe and near sabotage of this project” when they cut in excess of $10 billion combined allocations in the 2013 and 2014 Budgets.Moreover, Edghill went on to call out Government for back-pedalling on its design changes made to the fixed price design and build contract.“We are aware that significant alterations and changes have been made to the design. It is our intention, and we will, at the appropriate time, call for a performance audit of this project, to ensure that the Guyanese people got value for their money and what was paid for was delivered. The Minister of Public Infrastructure, on numerous occasions in the National Assembly, failed to answer questions or deliver information promised in regard to this project. His usual style of much rhetoric is now commonplace, with very little to show,” Edghill asserted.However, the Public Infrastructure Minister, in response to the Opposition, said that progress of the expansion works shows that Guyana is getting “value for its money”, noting that the purpose of the visit was for the Members of Parliament to have a first-hand observation of the on-going works and make comments or recommendations before the project is completed.Supplementary fundsMeanwhile, the Public Infrastructure Minister also went on to say that other aspects of the project that were not included in the contract would require more supplementary funds in the future. Those include fencing around the extended runway and construction of a new commercial space outside the airport.“Those are not in the China Harbour contract. So, progressively, we will make the outside, the external landside of the airport, more user- and customer-friendly. So obviously that will require more funds… We can’t just have a world class terminal, we must have world class ambience and feeling, so there will be opportunity for the normal Guyanese to have a kiosk and so that persons can sample some genuine local cuisine,” he added.According to Minister Patterson, the costs of these aesthetic works are yet to be determined, and will only commence after the actual expansion works are completed, which will be by the end of December this year.However, the Public Infrastructure Minister noted that the opening of the new airport facility will be done in a phased manner. In fact, in June the new arrival terminal will be opened, while the new departure lounge will soon be given a test run with one of the airlines, and if all goes well, then the entire operation will be shifted into the new space.last_img read more