… systems to monitor implementation of agreement lacking
The Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into land ownership heard that several discrepancies were unearthed by a forensic audit into the Central Housing and Planning Authority’s (CH&PA’s) operations relative to the allocation of land to private developers; and although those developers reportedly owe that housing authority more than $1 billion, no system exists that would enforce agreements existing between the CH&PA and those developers.
Head of the Special Organised Crimes Unit (SOCU), Assistant Police Commissioner Sydney James, read excerpts from the reported findings of the forensic audit into the operations of the CH&PA, done by Ram and McRae, when he appeared on Wednesday before the Commission of Inquiry into lands. He told the CoI that the report has been referred to SOCU.
This CoI, established under the Commission of Inquiry Act, is designed to examine and make recommendations to resolve all issues and uncertainties surrounding the claims of Amerindian land titling; the individual, joint or communal ownership of lands acquired by freed Africans; and any matter relating to land titling in Guyana. However, the Amerindian aspect of the CoI has been put on hold until further notice.
Having submitted to the Commission a copy of the audit report, which was tendered into evidence, James said investigations are still ongoing, but declined to comment when asked about the allocation of land to a popular hardware company at Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown. However, according to the report, he did indicate that the CH&PA is owed more than $1 billion by private developers.
“The investigations are ongoing, and I submitted a copy of (the) forensic audit and notes (detailing) that a number of observations were made: that there were discrepancies in the procedures…, (that) there were delays in the start of
construction, and (that) there was no evidence that the chap had systems in place to monitor or enforce the agreements with the developers.
“We also noted significant outstanding balances that totalled $1,174,294,600 (one billion, one hundred and seventy-four million, two hundred and ninety-four thousand, six hundred dollars) owed to the Central Housing and Planning Authority by developers,” he read.
CH&PA Director of Operations, Denise King-Tudor, had taken the stand before the Commission on Monday, and was questioned extensively about the operations of her office. She alluded to some discrepancies with land allocations in some sections of the country.
The Central Housing and Planning Authority (CHPA) is in the process of repossessing allocations of land from private developers who are in arrears of fees and have failed to honour the terms of agreements entered into with the CH&PA.
In cases where irregularities were discovered and legal advice is being sought before engaging defaulting parties, the housing authority has accordingly forwarded those agreements to the Attorney General’s Office.
The CH&PA has also taken the Bai Shan Lin subsidiary, Sunset Lakes, to court for breaching the agreement entered into with the housing authority.