Glenn Lall takes Govt to court over land giveaways
…seeking order quashing Finance Minister’s rushed deals
Businessman Glenn Lall is taking the caretaker A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Administration to court over its rush to finalise land deals despite elections being held and a recount showing their loss at the polls.
According to a Fixed Date Application filed on Lall’s behalf, the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) is the first named respondent. Also named as respondents are Finance Minister Winston Jordan and Attorney General Basil Williams.
According to the particulars of the case, it is alleged that the Minister’s transfer of lands on June 11, 2020, was unlawful, ultra vires, null and void. According to gazetted orders, a number of private companies received prime land on the East Coast of Demerara (ECD). These companies were listed in the case documents.
They include Bosai Minerals Group, Super Graphics Enterprise, American Marines Services and Caribbean Marketing Enterprise. In the application, Lall is seeking orders quashing all orders issued under Jordan’s hand, which transferred land to the aforementioned companies.
According to the application, Lall is seeking “a declaration there is no power/authority vested in the first respondent or second respondent pursuant to Section 8 and 11 of the Public Corporations Act Cap 19:05 to convey or transfer any property under its or his control to any person or entity not under the control of the Minister.”
Lall’s legal team is being led by Attorney-at-Law Sanjeev Datadin. Also, on the team are Attorneys-at-Law Aneesa Chow and Donavon A Rangiah. Meanwhile, High Court Judge Sandra Kurtzious is expected to hear the matter.
It was revealed last month that in the waning days of the APNU/AFC Government, a number of companies had land transferred to them by NICIL, with the vesting orders being signed by Minister Jordan.
A case in point is Bosai minerals group, located at Republic Avenue, Mackenzie, Linden, which had a total of 1.427 acres of land transferred to it by NICIL. The land, which has no infrastructure on it, includes 0.353 acres at Lot 53 portion of Plantation Surapana on the banks of the Demerara River. Another 0.356 acres on the banks of the River were also transferred.
A similar transaction was the transfer of 20 acres of land, also part of 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.
Meanwhile, another beneficiary of land was Premier Sales Incorporated, of lot 101 Pike Street, Kitty. The company received five acres of land, also in Sparendaam and Goedverwagting, on the ECD. All the orders were dated June 11.
The developments came at a time when the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) has before it a huge backlog of cases and thousands of dissatisfied ordinary citizens languishing in the system, made worse by the coalition Government’s lack of ordinary house lot distribution policies.
Caretaker transition mode
In addition, the caretaker Government is supposed to be in both a caretaker and a transition mode, where large transactions are not entered into. The governing coalition would have lost a No-Confidence Motion in December 2018.
As such, the expectation is that Government will not engage in any large transactions but will only conduct basic functions. In addition, based on the recount, the coalition also lost the March 2 General and Regional Elections.
The revelations, therefore, generated outrage across sections of society. In NICIL’s defence, however, they had said the land deals were rushed in order to pay the cash-strapped Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo). NICIL had also claimed that the lands were partly paid for last year.
According to NICIL, however, the transaction was not complete because the vesting orders were not gazetted. NICIL claimed that the rush to complete the transactions is due to the dire financial straits facing GuySuCo, which it is funding.
GuySuCo had recently appealed to the Government for funds in order to ensure it could continue through the month of June. It was subsequently announced that GuySuCo received $250 million.