Govt to review all land deals issued after No-Confidence Motion
The new People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government on Friday announced that all of the land deals conducted by the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission (GL&SC) since the December 2018 passage of the No-Confidence Motion (NCM) will be reviewed.
This is according to Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister, Anil Nandlall.
He also disclosed that GL&SC Commissioner, Trevor Benn no longer has the powers to approve and issue lease, license and grant permission for occupancy of State lands.
Under various pieces of legislation, the President of Guyana, delegates a number of powers vested in him, including the State Lands Act and the Lands Department Act in respect of sanctioning of renting and granting of leases, licenses and permission of occupancy of all Public Lands, to the Guyana Lands and Survey Commission, exercisable by the Commissioner of the Guyana Lands and Survey Commission.
As such, after assuming office in 2015, former President David Granger in 2016 had delegated his powers of approving and issuing leases and licenses of State lands to Lands and Surveys Commissioner, Trevor Benn.
However, these powers were been revoked with immediate effect on Friday by President Irfaan Ali. A publication in the Offical Gazette was made to this effect. This means that now the Commission will only process applications but the approval will be made by the President or any other person assigned by him.
Meanwhile, in the statement on Friday, Nandlall added “A review of all leases, licenses and permissions to occupy Public Lands, granted since the 21st day of December 2018, will be conducted. On the 21st day of December 2018, the APNU/AFC Government was defeated by a No-Confidence Motion passed in the National Assembly. As a result, thereof, it was reduced to a caretaker status only.”
Despite being toppled by a motion of no-confidence that was tabled by the then PPP/C Opposition and was passed with a majority vote, the APNU/AFC Administration remained in office and instead of operating in a caretaker mode in accordance with the Constitution, continued in a “business as normal” manner.
In fact, the coalition had challenged the passage of the NCM but it was validated by the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) in June last year, which ruled that elections should be called within three months as stipulated in the Constitution. But elections were not held until March 2020 – some nine months after the CCJ ruling and more than one year after the passage of the motion.
During that time, the caretaker coalition conducted many underhand deals including the massive giveaway of prime State lands to political affiliates.
In fact, even after the March 2, 2020 elections, the APNU/AFC Government, in its waning days, had transferred lands to a number of companies through the National Industrial and Commercial Investment Limited (NICIL). Those vesting orders were signed by former Finance Minister Winston Jordan.
Meanwhile, only last month, businessman Glen Lall filed legal proceedings against the APNU/AFC Administration over its rush to finalise land deals despite elections being held and the National Recount showing their loss at the polls.
The application alleged that the Finance 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).
In the application, Lall is seeking orders quashing all orders issued under Jordan’s hand, which transferred land to the aforementioned companies. That matter is pending in court. (G8)