APNU/AFC transferred prime lands without receiving payments
…as yet another company returns land to State
Over the past two days, it has been revealed former Finance Minister under the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Administration, Winston Jordan had vested several acres of prime land on the East Coast of Demerara (ECD) to companies without receiving full payments.
This was disclosed over the past two days when at least two companies that were allocated prime State land said 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.
The latest company to announce it will be returning the lands obtained at Ogle, ECD is Cardiology Services Inc.
Renowned Guyanese cardiologist, Dr Mahendra Carpen, who is the Managing Director of Cardiology Services Inc, 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 election by over 15,000 votes.
“In June 2020, without the knowledge or participation of Cardiology Services Inc, the property was vested in Cardiology Services Inc though the financial terms of the transaction had not been completed,” Dr Carpen disclosed in a statement on Friday.
As such, the Managing Director noted that given the circumstances surrounding the vesting of the property, Cardiology Services Inc has agreed to rescind the vesting order without prejudice and allow the reverting of the title of the property to NICIL so as to enable the Government of Guyana to fulfil its mandate to ensure all lands are reclaimed unimpeded.
Nevertheless, Dr Carpen said Cardiology Services Inc still looked 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”.
Only on Thursday, 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.
The US$83 million 30-acre development will feature, in addition to a man-made lake and multiple swimming pools, modern home designs along with a commercial zone to include banks, medical facilities, a shopping area and restaurants.
However, subsequent to the March 2 elections, the company said it made no attempts to initiate any transfer of lands or advance the project and on March 6, it announced that the project was suspended owing to the political uncertainty at the time.
But lands were also vested to the developer without completion of payments.
“As the public is aware, immediately after the elections, Navigant Builders announced that it was postponing plans to continue its Ogle Development Project and cancelled all payments to NICIL. In June 2020, unbeknownst to Navigant, NICIL vested the property to us which was subject to our agreement of sale; though we had indicated in writing to NICIL that we cannot move ahead with the said project until such time as the elections crisis was resolved,” Navigant said in a statement.
The vesting orders in both cases were signed by former Minister Jordan.
In addition to the hospital and the housing estate, the coalition Government had also signed several other agreements for the construction of property by international hotel chains in February.
In fact, massive tracts of lands were transferred by the APNU/AFC during its waning days in office.
There was the transfer of some 20 acres of land, at Goedverwagting and Sparendaam, to American Marine and Services Incorporated. The company, located at Lot 215 Cross Street and Mandela Avenue, Alexander Village, was granted the land by NICIL on the basis of a signed order by Jordan also on June 11, 2020.
Guyana Times had previously reported that Bosai Minerals Group also had a total of 1.427 acres of land transferred to it by NICIL, through an order signed by Jordan.
While in Opposition, the PPP/C had cited corruption in several land deals undertaken by the then coalition Government and had indicated that the lands would be repossessed once it assumed office.
In fact, PPP/C’s Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha, last month announced that Agriculture Ministry would be revoking lands belonging to the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) that were vested to various private entities by NICIL.
A Special Purpose Unit (SPU) was established under NICIL to take over the divestment of GuySuCo’s assets that were earmarked for sale following the downsizing of the Sugar Corporation by the David Granger-led coalition.