Major shortfalls, discrepancies uncovered in Agri-Ministry

As the transition period continues, more discrepancies in Government Ministries and Agencies are being unravelled.

The Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha, has uncovered a number of shortfalls, by the APNU+AFC Coalition Government, in his Ministry.

These deficits have been found in the Ministry and sub-agencies, such as the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA), Agriculture Sector Development Unit, Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) and Guyana Sugar Corporation Incorporated. (GuySuCo).

According to the Minister, a shortfall of $89Million was discovered in the Budget of the NDIA. Additionally, a related request, which was lodged with the Ministry of Finance under the previous administration, went unheeded.

Adding to issues in NDIA, are inoperable pumps and excavators. Also, a contract for $753,397,248 for the acquisition of fixed and mobile pumps and associated structures and spares was found.

However, to date, $308,137,000 has been paid, and a delay in supply and installation has been identified.

“Even as parts of our country are affected by flooding with residents inconvenienced and farmers losing crops and livestock, 20 pumps and 21 excavators were found to be inoperable, with $23,842,320 owed to operators of equipment,” the Minister said.

Moreover, the Hope Coconut Industries Limited was found in a poor, financial state with only $116,072 in its account. Additionally, GRDB has a current liability of $4.7 Million and is being affected by delays in over $1 B in payments of rice exports, among other delays. GuySuCo has a liability of $9.5 Billion and has been behind on first crop targets.

The Fisheries Department of the Ministry recorded a deficit of $40 Million, and farmers of Mahaica-Mahaicony-Abary/Agricultural Development Authority (MMA/ADA) are said to be highly indebted after rate hikes.

“These farmers were burdened by the steep hike in rates and rentals implemented by the APNU+AFC government. There are sixteen legal matters, before the High Court, for which the Authority is a named party.”

In terms of the Agriculture Sector Development Unit, the re-allocation process of the loan agreement with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) for the Sustainable Agricultural Development Project (SADP) and a loan agreement for the Hinterland Environmentally Sustainable Agriculture Development Project (HESADP) were not completed.

Also, US$26 Million for the Flood Risk Management Project was applied for, to the World Bank, and was found to be awaiting signatures from the former Minister of Finance.
The application included a change of scope for a Swine Abattoir through the Rural Agricultural Infrastructure Development (RAID).

The new Minster is committed to working towards having all issues rectified immediately and keeping the public up-to-date with the progress on all the issues brought forward.