Barking behind fences without facing the truth
Unlike Romel Roopnarine who gets G$395,000 of taxpayers’ money every month for barking to his OP masters’ commands, I don’t have the time to respond to his every yelp. I write letters on issues facing the Guyanese people out of patriotism, not paid like Roopnarine to sling trite tripe. But I have to set the story straight on Roopnarine’s letter which appeared twice in Kaieteur News under the titles “The AG and the Chancellor earn what the President does” and “The arrogance of Maxwell’s letter is a reflection of the opposition’s mentality”.
Contrary to what Roopnarine thinks, the Guyanese people do have a right to question where Jagdeo got the money to build his Pradoville II palace. What did Jagdeo earn and spend to build that mansion? Roopnarine has not provided us with numbers to refute my estimate of Jagdeo earning an average of $1 million per month for the 147 months he was in power. Therefore, I will continue to use that number until Roopnarine and other PPP backers provide verifiable evidence to confirm Jagdeo’s total salary from August 11, 1999 to December 3, 2011.
Further, Roopnarine said Jagdeo’s pension will be about US$72,000. Presidential pensions are seven-eighths of the highest salary payable to a President. If US$72,000 is seven-eighths of what Jagdeo earned as President, then Jagdeo was earning about US $82,300 per year or US$6858 per month when he left office.
It is clear my estimate of Jagdeo earning $1 million per month for the 147 months he was in office is not far-fetched. That stated, I am prepared to be corrected by confirmable evidence to the contrary. $1 million per month times 147 months gives us $147 million in tax-free income earned by Jagdeo in office. According to Jagdeo’s ex-wife, Varshnie Singh, in a statement released to the press in January 2009, Jagdeo reportedly informed her he had only $10 million in savings after completing his Pradoville I house in 2008.
Jagdeo would have earned approximately $108 million by that time. Jagdeo said to the press he showed Singh his filings to the Integrity Commission.
He never stated to the press he had more in savings than the $10 million. To have only $10 million remaining in 2008 means Jagdeo exhausted roughly $98 million on his Pradoville I house.
I am not deducting living expenses from that $108 million figure, since Jagdeo was entitled to a spending/expense account as President which was reportedly $1 million per month as of last year. Again, I am prepared to recant these figures if Roopnarine could provide proof to the contrary, including Jagdeo’s returns to the Integrity Commission and his affidavits and other documents to Varshnie Singh.
If based on this publicly known information that states Jagdeo had only $10 million remaining around 2008, which was never refuted by Jagdeo, he (Jagdeo) spent $98 million to build a upper middle class home at Pradoville I, it is reasonable to estimate the construction, design and decorating cost of the Pradoville II palace cannot be anything less than US$1.5 million or G$300 million.
Jagdeo’s Pradoville II house is probably the largest personal home in Guyana. It has a pool, poolhouse and other auxiliary buildings. It is unclear whether Jagdeo’s Pradoville I house had a pool. Jagdeo reportedly paid $58,000 for his Pradoville I lot. He paid $10 million for the land alone at Pradoville II, which many commentators claim was cheap for the location.
The fencing costs on the Pradoville II large property, the land buildup costs to offset flooding, landscaping and other land preparation costs alone will be staggering. The Pradoville II house will likely contain a library and office(s) and probably other specialized features, which significantly drive-up cost.
For a man of Jagdeo’s accustomed luxurious taste acquired from sitting 12 years in the presidency, one would assume the interior decorating and fitting will be nothing short of sumptuous and palatial. The complex is several times bigger than Pradoville I, which was built for probably around $98 million. Jagdeo’s Pradoville II home was constructed during a construction boom with high construction costs, escalating cost of living and raging inflation.
The question for Roopnarine is if Jagdeo had $10 million left over in 2008 and has acquired $40 million since in salary to December 2011 and $10.8 million in pension from December 2011 to present, he would have $60.8 million today in earnings and pension to pay towards a probable $300 million home.
When we add the $120 million Jagdeo made from the sale of his Pradoville I home, he would have $180.8 million to spend towards this Pradoville II home that is probably worth $300 million. This leaves a hole of $119 million or US$595,000 that remains unexplained.
The $180.8 million is assuming Jagdeo spends nothing on personal living expenses. If that amount is reduced for out-of-pocket spending, the discrepancy gets worse. If the cost of the home is increased from my estimate of US $1.5 million ($300 million), the gaping hole in the financial picture gets murkier.
These are questions the Guyanese people are asking based on information out there and realistic estimates. If Roopnarine has verifiable numbers and figures to the contrary to what I and many Guyanese have estimated and calculated and to what I have outlined in this letter, I am prepared to be corrected.
Until then, the Guyanese people have a right to ask these questions.
I will deal with Roopnarine’s other absurdities in a separate letter.