This is according to the portfolio minister, Kye Rymer who said the ministry plans to settle the debt by the end of 2020.
Speaking in the House of Assembly on Tuesday, Rymer said his ministry has already processed $645,173.38 of outstanding invoices for products and services obtained by the government from multiple vendors.
These products and services include the supply of concrete in the amount of $254,062; the supply of construction materials totalling $27,436.38; hiring heavy equipment services in the amount of $132,350; and procuring barge services to transport equipment and materials to the sister islands for $97,600.
Additionally, the minister said $133,725 was paid for various other unclassified services rendered to the government.
Minister Rymer issued a public apology to all the businesses and persons whom the government owes. He referred to one particular business that government owes more than $800,000.
“I am currently faced with having to settle outstanding invoices from an old Water Purchase Agreement which dates back to 2010. The pending outstanding payment to this vendor is to the tune of $815,747.90,” he stated.
“It is unfathomable that we would have an outstanding bill for a decade long on something as critical and essential to life as water,” the minister added.
Rymer said the failure by the previous administration to clear their debt to vendors is an injustice to all persons and establishments who fulfilled their end of the bargain by providing quality products or services.
He said this action by the former government has had a negative effect on his ministry’s infrastructure development and maintenance plans.
“Such delays affect the cash flow of these companies. It impedes their ability to meet their own commitments and to pay their own bills. It hampers their growth. It affects their employees. It can cause them to go out of business,” he stated.
“To settle these outstanding invoices, many projects are now delayed, as funding is no longer available to proceed with the execution of some of these works. Delayed projects include road improvements, embankment stabilisation, drainage and water optimising, just to name a few,” Rymer explained.
The minister said the government is aiming to rebuild a positive relationship with the affected businesses and assured them they will be treated with courtesy, respect, and professionalism under this present administration.