Another company returns land given out under former APNU/AFC Govt
– Corum Group says it will work with NICIL, Govt to build int’l hotel
Companies continue to repudiate land granted to them under the former A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government, to allow for a new and transparent process, with the latest to do so being Corum Group, the developer of Holiday Inns.
The company in question, Corum Group, was allocated five acres of land at Ogle, East Coast Demerara, back in January of this year, after having applied for the lease in 2017. But at the time, the Government was in caretaker status and moreover, preparing for elections. As such, the transaction should have never been signed off.
In a statement from Managing Director Clairmont Cummings, he revealed that the company wishes to voluntarily give up the land. According to Cummings, the land will revert to the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL).
Moreover, they will seek to work with NICIL and get the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Government’s approval to build an international hotel at the appropriate time. According to Corum Group, which owns the Pizza Hut and Burger King franchise in Guyana, they wish to support the Government in carrying out its mandate.
“Corum Group Inc wishes to voluntarily revert lands to NICIL, without prejudice to support the Government of Guyana in its mandate. Notwithstanding, we at Corum look forward to working with NICIL and the Government of Guyana through its recently announced Request for Proposals (RFP) to build an international hotel in Guyana at the appropriate time,” the statement said.
Only on Thursday last, Navigant Builders Incorporated – the developer of the Windsor Estate housing community – announced it too would be allowing some 30 acres of lands at Ogle to revert to the State to facilitate a more “transparent” reissuing of lands.
Back in February 2020 – just three days before the March 2 elections – NICIL and Navigant Builders Inc officials turned the symbolic sod for the sprawling Windsor Estate East Coast Project at Ogle.
In a recent interview with this publication following the return of State lands, Attorney General Anil Nandlall had been very critical of the transactions. He had pointed out that in some cases, the former Government vested lands to persons with partial and even no payments.
“The principles of transparency and accountability require State assets to be disposed in a particular way… either obtain a valuation certificate to determine the market value or advertise the property publicly and allow a fair and transparent process to take place so that everyone is offered a fair opportunity to compete for the property.”
“We had transactions where not only those procedures were violated, but where there was absolutely no money paid. Or only a fraction of the purchase paid and title passed to the purchaser. Now that is criminal conduct,” the AG had said.
According to him, this will be a thing of the past as the Government forges a new, more transparent path. Nandlall assured that the PPP Government will ensure State land which has to be sold is valuated and sold through a legal process, ensuring the State receives its due.
Last week, two companies that were allocated prime State land by the previous Government came forward to reveal that the titles were vested to them without the completion of payments. As such, the companies have since indicated that they will be reverting the titles to the State to allow for a more transparent process.
Cardiology Services Incorporated is one of the companies. Renowned Guyanese cardiologist, Dr Mahendra Carpen, who is the Managing Director of the company, revealed that the company secured the lands to construct a state-of-the-art private hospital.
He explained that in 2017, the company reached out to the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) by way of an Expression of Interest (EoI) to purchase various lands in Ogle for the purpose of building a hospital.
Dr Carpen noted that the agreement was signed in February of 2020 – just days before the March 2 General and Regional Elections. However, he noted that the payments were not completed, yet the lands were transferred to the company at a time when the country was embroiled in an electoral impasse after the APNU/AFC refused to accept the results of a National Recount that showed the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) won the elections by over 15,000 votes.
Nevertheless, Dr Carpen said Cardiology Services Inc still looks forward to working with NICIL and the Guyana Government to “achieve their mutual goals of building a state-of-the-art private hospital at the appropriate time”.