PPP/C Govt to ensure State land is valuated, sold through legal channels – Nandlall
…says former APNU/AFC Govt selling of land without receiving payments worse than misconduct
Attorney General Anil Nandlall has described the former A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government’s practice of selling land without receiving payments, as worse than misconduct in public office.
It was only last week that at least two companies made commitments to return lands that were hurriedly vested to them under the previous Government. In an interview with this publication, Nandlall condemned the practice and laid out why it was so offensive.
The AG pointed out that since the passage of the No-Confidence Motion in December of 2018, the former APNU/AFC Government was supposed to be in caretaker status and as such, should not have been approving large transactions. But even worse, the former Government was approving those transactions without receiving full or even any payment from the companies who received the land.
“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 posited.
Nandlall recalled that former Finance Minister, Dr Ashni Singh, and former National industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) Head, Winston Brassington were charged under APNU/AFC for selling land that, in fact, went through all the proper legal channels and was also paid for.
“You would recall that Ashni Singh and Brassington were charged and they sold at market value and based upon a process where the land was advertised. And yet, APNU/AFC Government charged them for misconduct in public office. What you have here is 10 times worse than that. There is no process, no valuation and in some cases, no purchase price,” Nandlall surmised, adding that the PPP Government will ensure land 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.
The latest company to announce it will be returning the lands it obtained at Ogle, ECD, is Cardiology Services Inc. Renowned Guyanese cardiologist, Dr Mahendra Carpen, who is the Managing Director of Cardiology Services Inc, 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 National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) by way of an Expression of Interest (EoI) to purchase various tracts of 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 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”.
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. (G3)