Statement from David Patterson
I have been following the finding of the special audit on the DHB Asphalt Plant, and have decided to offer a few comments, please note I have absolutely no doubt about the professionalism of the members of the Audit team, my comments are solely based on the online version of the report:-
1. The report was commissioned to examine the functioning of the Asphalt Plant during the years 2013 – 2020; not surprisingly the team found NO records for 2013 & 2014, however, record-keeping only commenced in 2015 – Go Figure!
2. The Board members of 2013 – 2014 are a matter of public record, yet there is no evidence that the audit team contacted these members to ascertain why no records were available during their tenure – Go Figure!
3. The Guyana Institute of Accountants was requested to submit a representative to sit on the DHB board in 2015, their nominee, a very professional young female accountant should be given kudos for instituting and implementing systems from scratch. Acknowledging as the report stated, that the systems could be strengthened, no reference was made that this was a work in progress, starting from zero to the time of the Audit – Go Figure!
4. DHB is audited every year, and the report is laid in the Parliament, the auditing firm is appointed by non-other than the Auditor General of Guyana (not DHB or the Minister), yet non of these issues were highlighted in the publicly available financial reports, which would have served as a red flag to the Board, Management and Ministry. The audit team makes no comments on the completeness of the Auditor General commissioned reports – Go Figure!
5. Cold Mix Asphalt has been around since the 1830s, it has been used extensively worldwide since the time, it is as its name suggest, it is the alternative to hot mix (asphaltic concrete), it is used extensively as “ a stitch in time saves nine” solution particularly during the rainy season when most potholes develop. Simple usage – during the rainy season, if a pothole develops, the maintenance team applies the cold mix in the new pothole and seals the crack – if left untreated (as is happening now), the size and damage of the pothole increases. To suggest that a feasibility study is needed for a product that has been in use for almost 200 years is to say the least strange, even stranger still since it has been in use in Guyana long before 2015 – Go Figure!
6. The question on the procurement and payment to the supplier of the cold mix before the company was established, the management and Board need to address this matter. However, it would be interesting to find out what name the cheque was issued since it is claimed that the company received the contract before it was registered. With the anti-money laundering laws, it is would be impossible to cash a cheque without a bank account, if it was written in a company name – Go Figure!
7. On the gold band matter, management, in particular the GM, needs to provide a solid response to this issue, including the circumstances and decision-making process behind this procurement – knowing the team, I am confident a full and frank response is forthcoming, remember the maxim – “innocent until proven guilty” – Go figure!!
8. While not included in the Audit Report – articles about the new asphalt plant not being operational, are not TRUE, I have been reliably informed that the plant is fully functional, however, the authors of these articles have a different agenda – Go Figure!!
The DHB has been operational for over 40 years, the challenge to keep it afloat is widely published, the management and staff of DHB should be congratulated and encouraged for their efforts in ensuring that 18,000 vehicles and 20 ocean-going vessels access the bridge daily. If correctable mistakes have been made, they should be allowed to correct the same – it will be foolhardy to “throw out the baby with the bathwater”, but everyone already suspects where the baby will end up – Go Figure!!!