Every sale of state assets by PPP gov’t was done transparently – VP Jagdeo

– says in contrast to shady sale of state assets under PNC

Vice President Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo

Addressing a longstanding narrative against successive People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Governments, Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo on Thursday insisted that every state asset the party ever sold to private buyers while in government was done in a transparent and accountable manner.
During his press conference on Thursday, Jagdeo responded to accusations hurled by People’s National Congress Executive member Rear Admiral (retd) Gary Best in a missive, in which he defended his party’s handling of state assets during its 28 years in power pre-1992.
Jagdeo, who was President from 1999 to 2011, during which time several assets were sold through the Privatization Unit of the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL), made it clear that such transactions by the PPP were always transparent and above board.
“Let me, first of all, say to the public in Guyana (that) every asset we sold from 1992 to 2011 is in a report that we tabled in Parliament. Every single entity we sold, how much we sold it for, to whom, what process we went through. We’re the party that stopped privatization when we came into office, and established a privatization unit, a board, and then you had to go to cabinet – a multi-layered system that allowed us to be able to transparently do any privatization,” he detailed.

The National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited

The Vice President compared that with what occurred under the previous PNC Government by citing several examples, including the 1991 sale of Demerara Woods Limited to Lord Beaverbrook, an English aristocrat, for £9.7 million; along with a 50-year lease on over one million acres of rainforest.
According to the Guyana Journal 2007, Lord Beaverbrook would, just two months later, sell these assets for £61 million worth of equity, with the new complex becoming Demerara Timbers Limited.
“Contrast that with what they did. The Lord Beaverbrook. The GTC. They sold the GTC assets to Lord Beaverbrook. Just Google Lord Beaverbrook…they sold it, resold it for a major major set of money,” he declared.
“The Barama deal was shrouded in secrecy. GTT paid, I think, for 80 per cent of the assets. They paid US$60 million. We already had US$5 million in the bank account at that time. So, the company made in a single year, I think, more money than that. But the key thing is it was not advertised for sale,” Jagdeo further explained.
From 1992 to 2011, the state assets that were privatized included Guyana Stores Limited (GSL), Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry (GBTI), and the Guyana National Engineering Company (now Guyana National Industrial Company).
Guyana’s most recent attempt at privatization was the sale of the Marriott Hotel, for which the Government invited bids last year. The sale is still ongoing. In April of this year, it was reported that the Government was weighing its options after United States businessman Ramy El-Batrawi, who had put in the highest bid to purchase the Guyana Marriott Hotel, passed away – possibly putting the deal with his company, X, LLC, in limbo.
In May 2023, X, LLC emerged as the successful bidder with a US$90 million proposal to buy the Marriott Hotel located in Kingston, Georgetown. Apart from X, LLC, the only other company that submitted a proposal in the second bidding process was Integrated Group Guyana Inc., which had put in a US$86.1 million offer to buy the hotel. The Government had chosen the highest bidder to sell the hotel to. (G-3)