– Opposition questions $199. 7M rental of buildings for UNThere was high drama in the National Assembly as the Government was questioned about various projects and expenditures under the Public Infrastructure Ministry, which has been allocated $38.5billion in the budget for 2019.Public Infrastructure Minister David PattersonAt one point, Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Barton Scotland, had Opposition Chief Whip Gail Teixeira’s microphone cut off even as she argued for more time for her side to scrutinize the Ministry’s budget. The extended time was, however, granted.Opposition Parliamentarian Irfaan Ali questioned the amount allocated to renting buildings. A whopping $199.7 million was allocated for renting of buildings, which Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson explained would be used to house offices for the United Nations (UN) branches in Guyana.“This is just one building, one complex. It’s immediately south of the US Embassy. It is to house the United Nations. The UN has, at this moment, six offices. The FAO building, the Unicef building, the UNDP (United Nations Development Program), PAHO (Pan American Health Organisation), UNAIDS, all of which (we will house).”According to Patterson, the intention is to provide one consolidated complex that could meet the standards of security necessary for the agencies. But when Ali grilled the Minister about whether acquisition of the buildings — which will carry an average monthly cost of over $15 million — went through competitive tender, things became murky.Patterson informed the House that he worked on the basis of a shortlist of requirements provided by the UN. An impassioned Ali pointed out that tax payers’ money would still be used to cover the expenses of renting the complex. To this Patterson noted that when everything is considered, the Government got value for money with the arrangement.The Minister was also quizzed on the allocation of $374.8 million to Kwakwani Utilities Incorporated. Opposition Parliamentarian Juan Edghill noted that a similar sum was allocated in 2018, and the community suffered from electricity shortage.Edghill questioned what betterment would be brought to the community. Eventually, the Ministry’s budget was passed in the Committee of Supply.Government has allocated $38.5 billion in the 2019 budget to carry out several infrastructural projects.This had included, among other things, money for construction of 6 kilometres of paved roads in Linden, extensions of the highway from Hope Canal to Mahaica, and a feasibility study for a Linden-to-Mabura link.When it comes to the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Finance Minister Winston Jordan had said the monies allocated for all capital projects constitute 71.9 per cent of the total Ministry budget. The money is also an increase from the $32 billion the Ministry received last year.When it comes to the East Coast of Demerara (ECD), Jordan revealed that the projected cost of the East Coast/East Bank road linkage project (Ogle bypass) has jumped from US$50 million to US$120 million. He noted that Government would approach its bilateral partner — in this case the Export-Import Bank of India — for more funds.This EBD-ECD Bypass project is expected to be 26 kilometres of constructed road linking two of the country’s main thoroughfares. This new road link would also be connected to key communities in Georgetown and along the East Bank of Demerara. Those include Diamond, Mocha, Eccles – all on the East Bank – and Aubrey Barker Road in Georgetown.
Five of those winners will be in the field for tonight’s race, which kicks off the NASCAR weekend at the track. Leading the list is Ted Musgrave, who won three straight races from 2001-03; last year’s winner, Mark Martin; last week’s Daytona truck winner, Jack Sprague; Mike Bliss and Todd Bodine. Musgrave’s track record at Fontana is most impressive. In six starts, he has three wins and six Top 5 finishes. If that wasn’t enough, a record-matching seven series champions – who have combined for 10 of 11 titles and 120 victories – are also in the 43-truck field. Todd Bodine won the title in 2006; Musgrave in 2005; two-time Fontana winner Sprague (1997, 99, 01); Ontario native Mike Skinner (1995); former Palmdale resident Ron Hornaday Jr.; Bliss (2002) and Travis Kvapil. Skinner won the Nextel Cup Auto Club 500 pole in 2000, but has not finished better than fifth in four CTS starts. “I absolutely love going to California Speedway,” Skinner said. “Even though we have struggled there, I still think it is the best place in the world. “We are not going in thinking we must win, or any of the next few races for that matter. Last year we dug ourselves such a big hole in the beginning (17th at Fontana) that it took us a while to dig ourselves out of it. We are being a little more conservative than years past.” By virtue of his victory over Kvapil in the opener, Sprague leads the points for the first time since November of 2001. Martin is also part of a Nextel Cup invasion of sorts. Martin, who edged Bodine at the wire last year by 0.331 seconds, has jumped to a Ford F-150 owned by Wood Brothers/JTG Racing. Carl Edwards and Daytona 500 winner Kevin Harvick are also in the field and both racers will compete in all three Fontana events this weekend. A.J. Allmendinger, who has yet to qualify for a Cup race, will get some track time in a Red Bull Toyota. Harvick will make his first CTS start since the fall Richmond race in 2005, where he finished third. He’ll be racing a Chevrolet Silverado from his Kevin Harvick Inc. shop, which will also supply the Chevy for Hornaday. Chevy has not won at the track since 1999 with Sprague, the last of his two straight wins. In fact, after Martin’s Ford, the next five trucks were all Toyotas. In the season opener, four of the first five were Toyotas. Toyota drivers Sprague and Johnny Benson sneaked past Kvapil’s Ford in the last 200 yards for a 0.031 margin of victory. “That last little bit of the race, we gave it up,” Kvapil said. “If I had to redo it, obviously if I knew what was going to come I would have blocked (Sprague) harder earlier. I didn’t react fast enough, and I didn’t anticipate him having that much of a run on me.” Perhaps no driver is hungrier at Fontana than Brendan Gaughan, the Las Vegas resident who considers California Speedway one of his home tracks. In five previous NCTS starts at Fontana, Gaughan has one pole and two top 10 finishes. email@example.com (909) 386-3665 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! FONTANA – There is no real clear-cut favorite for tonight’s San Bernardino County 200 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at California Speedway. Indeed, as fitting the country’s largest county, the 100-lap race (6 p.m., Speed Channel) is wide open. In 10 previous CTS events at the track, there have been seven winners and half of those races have margins of victory of less than a second.