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The fencing of police stations during the crime wave that erupted in the country last year took priority in government's spending for the force, racking up in excess of $23M for 12 precincts.
This is according to the 2002 Auditor General's report which stated that quarter of the $93M, which was set aside for a number of improvements to the force's infrastructure, was spent on fencing alone. The report was tabled in the National Assembly on November 24.
According to the report, the money was budgeted for, among other things, the completion of the western barrack at the Brickdam Station in Georgetown; the rehabilitation of police stations at Monkey Mountain and painting and fencing of police stations.
Of that amount, the report said, 12 stations were fenced, while rehabilitation works were done at the Bartica Police Station to the tune of $10.6M; the western barracks at Brickdam, which cost some $7.2M; and the female barracks at the Felix Austin Police College ($5.9M). Some $5.3M was spent on repairs to the Reliance Police Station, while $4.4M was used to rehabilitate the Tactical Service Unit barracks.
A new $4.3M outpost was built at Wisroc, while close to $10M was spent in repairs to the Rose Hall/Georgetown, Sisters and Ruimveldt Police stations. Since February 2002, when five men escaped from the Camp Street jail, more than 370 persons, including several policemen, were murdered. There were also a number of attacks on stations in the city and along the lower East Coast Demerara.
But the Auditor General noted that although the Ministry of Home Affairs budgeted for the rehabilitation of the Monkey Mountain Police Station and the building at Lethem, no works had been done there, and they were not re-budgeted for in 2003.
Of the $23.7M used, the report said, a part involved a contract for the fencing of the Number 51 Police Station and that was awarded by the Central Tender Board to the second lowest of 12 bidders in the sum of $2.7M. The award was said to have been on a "spread out" basis. The lowest bidder, the report said, was $2.6M and the engineer's estimate was $3.8M. Nonetheless, the auditors verified that the works were completed.
According to the report, the contracts for the fencing of the remaining 11 police stations were awarded by the Central Tender Board to the lowest bidders to a total value of $19.9M.
"In addition, there were three variations totalling $1.97M, giving the total revised contract sums totalling $21.879M. However, approval was only seen for variations totalling [just under $1M]. As at December 31, 2002, the works were completed and amounts totalling $21M were paid to the contractors. The works were physically verified."
With regard to the force's deposit account, the report found that more than $4M wws taken from this fund to pay contractors for works awarded in 2001 but completed in 2002.
"In my 2001 report, attention was drawn to the fact that about $4M was paid into Deposits Fund as at December 31, 2001 instead of being refunded to the Consolidated Fund. It was, however, noted that the payments totalling $8.2M were made from this deposit account... The Accounting Officer explained that this amount should have been charged to the Capital Vote Account for 2002. Nevertheless, the amounts were paid to contractors as final payments to works awarded in 2001 but completed in 2002."
In relation to the next highest sum spent on repair works, the Cabinet last year approved $16.8M, the lowest of 14 bids, for the rehabilitation of the Bartica Police Station. Up until the end of last year, close to $11M was already paid to the contractor, but the auditors found that the Appropriation Account was overstated, since included in the amount, was a cheque for $2.1M "kept on hold for further payment." The works were still in progress at the end of 2002.