Toolsie Persaud executives warned over illegal works on Govt land
Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Anil Nandlall has written a stern letter warning senior executives within the Toolsie Persaud Limited (TPL) franchise, over encroachments on plots of land at Turkeyen, East Coast Demerara (ECD), that are currently subject to a court case.
The land, namely plots K and N Plantation Turkeyen, is currently subject to a court ordered stay of execution granted by Appeal Court Judge Rishi Persaud on April 20, 2018, pending the hearing of the appeal of an earlier judgement made by Justice Brassington Reynolds concerning the land.
The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Government had earmarked the land to construct a specialty hospital. But it has been observed of recent that massive works involving heavy duty equipment were being done on the land – works that were not Government sanctioned.
According to Nandlall in his letter addressed to Rajesh Persaud, Avinash Persaud and Vinod Persaud, persons claiming to be acting in the name of TPL have begun doing work on the land without the Government’s permission.
“The effect of that stay of execution is that the status quo ante of the orders shall prevail. I wish to remind you that the said status quo was, the Government of Guyana being in possession of the said plots of land and had commenced the construction of an edifice to house a specialty hospital. That position still obtains and the Government, therefore, remains in possession thereof.”
“I am instructed that persons holding themselves to be servants and or agents of Toolsie Persaud Limited have recently entered upon the said land and have begun to clear, clean and landscape same, without the permission or the authority of the Government of Guyana,” the AG said in the letter.
According to Nandlall, these actions are not only a breach of the order handed down by the Appeal Court Judge, thereby constituting contempt of court, they are also a trespass against the Government of Guyana. The AG ordered them to vacate the site immediately or face the consequences.
“In the circumstances, I hereby request that the captioned plots of land be immediately vacated and all equipment, plant or machinery placed thereon be removed forthwith; and all activities and works being executed, thereof cease with immediate effect. Failure to comply with these demands will be met with the full force of the law.”
The three men the letter was addressed to are all listed as directors on the TPL Board on the company’s website and are understood to be the sons of TPL founder Toolsie Persaud. In the case of Avinash Persaud, he is listed as the Chief Executive Officer of Interior Forest Industries (IFI), which has logging concessions at Butukari in Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni).
The land in question has been subject to a court battle between TPL, the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) and the Government of Guyana for some time, culminating in the High Court ruling of Justice Reynolds on April 20, 2018, that NICIL pass the title for plot N to TPL.
Additionally, Reynolds had ordered that the Government of Guyana pay TPL compensation for plot K. That decision was appealed and pending that appeal, Justice Persaud had issued orders to stay Reynold’s ruling.
The former PPP Government had earmarked and even started construction of a Specialty Hospital on that very land, funded with a US$18 million line of credit (LOC) from the Indian Export-Import (EXIM) bank.
This hospital would have provided specialised services to Guyanese and eliminated the need for persons to travel overseas for expensive, life-saving treatment. Back in 2012, the contract to construct the hospital was awarded to an India-based company, Surendra Engineering Corporation Limited.
At the time, however, a competing Indian company named Fedders Lloyd Corporation had opposed the bid. After the former A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government entered office in 2015, it proceeded to hand the contract to Fedders Lloyd, which was subsequently blacklisted by the World Bank for unrelated procurement breaches.
With that, the specialty hospital project hit its final snag. While the current PPP Government still wants a specialty hospital built, the Indian LOC had to be converted to upgrading existing regional hospitals such as West Demerara, Suddie and Bartica Hospitals. There is nevertheless both local and foreign private investor interest in constructing a specialty hospital in Guyana.