Tue | Dec 18, 2018

Legislators question AG's report of cost overrun on road programme

Published:Thursday | May 3, 2018 | 12:00 AMBrian Walker/Staff Reporter
Monroe Ellis

Members of the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament have contended that the auditor general's claim of a cost overrun of US$2.71 million for a Jamaica Development Infrastructure Project for quantity surveyor services may not be painting an accurate picture.

The issue emanated from an audit of the Road Maintenance Fund (RMF) between April 1, 2015, and March 31, 2016. The RMF had contracted the quantity surveyor with an initial budget of US$1.92 million.

"RMF indicated that the excess was due to changes in the scope of work; however, we did not receive the requisite approved variation orders," Auditor General Pamela Monroe Ellis reported.

Government Member Everald Warmington argued that the impact of the exchange rate did not inform the audit.

He noted, "If we have a problem here, it should not only include change in scope, but it must also reflect all the reasons that caused the increase.

"If, as they explained, at the time when they started the exchange rate was J$80 to one US dollar [but] at the time when they calculated the last one [surveyor's report] it was 120-odd, this would create a serious increase."

Government Member Juliet Holness suggested that the quantity surveyor's rate should be keenly examined. "... It should not require that you are allowed, unless so contracted, to vary your percentage rate charge. So, of all the contention, that's where we should really look to see if the QS (quantity surveyor) rate of, say, four per cent was able to move to five or six per cent and that was not so contracted," said Holness.

The auditor general, concurred with Holness, stating that the increased expenditure needed approval from the relevant permanent secretary, the National Contracts Commission, and the Cabinet.