Public Works Minister, Bishop Juan Edghill found himself in the hot seat last night in the Committee of Supply as Opposition Parliamentarians grilled him on the expenditure of close to $7 billion dollars and at least three location changes for the government’s heavily touted “Office Complex”.

The building, projected to be four towers at 12 stories high, will now be constructed along the road that will link Ogle, on the East Coast of Demerara (ECD) to the artery coming from the East Bank of Demerara (EBD). This is reportedly the third location change since the project was first announced. In 2022, the sum of $2.4 billion was allocated to begin works with a further $4.6 billion earmarked for the project last year. Budget 2024 now has an allocation of $1 billion.

With nothing but a billboard on site at the new location, Opposition MPs quizzed the minister about the disbursements of the money with no works to show.


Addressing concerns over the change in location, Edghill said that the government had initially acquired 10 acres of land along the Eccles/Mandela interlink road. However, after going back to the drawing board to review the road connectivity network, it was revealed that traffic congestion would have been imminent. Therefore, the location was changed.

“So, we have been able to move the location of the project to the new interlink road that will be between Ogle and what is now called the Jaguar monument – one kilometre away from the Eccles/Mandela interlink road, heading east,” he explained.

The land was acquired from the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) at no cost. It was an inter-agency transaction. A geotechnical study is currently underway with the life of the project estimated at 913 days.

He added that this new location will grant easier access to persons coming from the East Coast and West Demerara, Georgetown and the East Bank of Demerara. He added that the new location will give government access to 20 acres of land as opposed to the 10 at the previous site.

Edghill said that the contractor, who had already inked the agreements and was in the mobilisation phase, was asked to wait until the authorities sorted out the location change before commencing works.

“We are advancing with this project now. We apologise to the nation and to the House for the delays, but the delays are for the greater good for all of us because we wanted to ensure that what we are going will bring relief and not bringing struggle,” he said.

Where is the $4.6B? – Opposition MPs

Responding to Opposition Member of Parliament (MP), David Patterson’s claim that some 44% of the contract sum has been expended, Edghill said that the former Minister’s calculation was incorrect.

Edghill said that a mobilisation fee of $2.645 billion was advanced in 2022 to the contractor, Caribbean Green Building Incorporated (CGBI) in keeping with the standard bidding document and percentages to be paid.

In his response to the $4.6 billion in 2023, the Minister said: “The 2023 allocation of $4B is what we had to ask the contractor to stop bringing supplies and materials because it is a prefabricated structure that will be going up in keeping with the new technology. Some of the same construction is taking place with some of the hotels and other things that are taking place. So, we haven’t spent 44% of the contract sum.”

Noting ambiguity in his explanation regarding the expenditure of the $4.6 billion, opposition MPs sought clarity.

But Edghill went on to say that a consultancy group, VIKAB is now supervising the project. He then professed that “there is no mystery; there is no money that has disappeared or anything of that sort”.

Opposition MP, Annette Ferguson followed her colleague, Patterson, in seeking an explanation from the Minister. She noted that since no structure is visible at the new location, whether unspent sums from the close to $7 billion was returned to the Consolidated Fund. She also pointed out that the company, CGBI, does not have a website, noting that the only other mention of the firm was its involvement in a sod-turning exercise for a hotel.

But Edghill proffered no response to this specific question about returning monies to the fund. He, however, went to the defence of the CGBI, noting that the firm acquired the job through an open tender process.

Patterson then again requested the minister to say how the $4.6 billion was spent, but the Minister again, shirked.

“On what basis did the Minister pay the $4.6 billion?” Patterson inquired.

Edghill responded, “I think the Honourable member thinks we’re in the Public Accounts Committee (PAC). The Auditor General is the authority to pronounce on matters he (Patterson) is asking about, and he (Patterson) will certainly have an opportunity at the Public Accounts Committee to ask those questions – like we normally do!”

Patterson then told the Committee of Supply that Edghill, a sitting Minister, even flanked by the heads of agencies under his purview, was unable to say how the mammoth sum was expended.

The former Public Infrastructure Minister suggested that perhaps the monies were spent to secure storage for the materials since the government sought to put the project on hold due to the location change. He told the committee that he does not have an issue going to the location to view the materials. But Edghill remarked, “He’s asking me to inspect something that is not in country.”

Time allocated to consider that line item was exhausted. The vote was put, and the committee approved the estimated $1 billion for the project.


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