Last year, the state-owned National Industrial, Commercial and Investments Limited (NICIL) handled an estimated 30 properties but no sale prices have been disclosed or monies transferred to Government’s Consolidated Fund.
One property was transferred from GUYSUCO to Prime Minister Samuel A.A Hinds and Yvonne Z. Hinds jointly.
This property is identified as Tract “B” Plantation Farm East Bank Demerara; with an area of 1.327 acres.
Another property was transferred from NICIL to Queens Atlantic Investment Inc. This property has been identified as 4702 Plantation Ruimveldt, with an area of 18.871 acres.
There was no known advertisement of this transfer nor was there a tender.
With the absence of any annual reports for NICIL being laid before Parliament this year, there are no indications that any monies will be paid to the fund also.
Last year, several questionable property transactions by NICIL served to bring more questions about the legality of the operations of the state-owned company, says accountant Christopher Ram.
Ram, whose company, Ram and McRae has been conducting reviews of Guyana’s budget for the last few years, believes that NICIL has become the vehicle of choice and a “convenience for diverting public funds for all kinds of unusual expenses.
“As it has succeeded in that unlawful and dangerous role it has become more brazen and less concerned about public criticisms.”
NICIL was established under the former Companies Act and the Public Corporations Act to subscribe for, take or otherwise acquire and hold the government shares, stocks, debentures or other securities of any company, co-operatives societies or body corporate.
“It has been doing much more than that. It was involved in the sale of land at Pradoville 2; the sale of properties to politically-connected business persons and to others; and it was involved in the controversial and contested award of the Amaila Falls Road contract to Synergy Inc. It is a government favourite that acts as though it too enjoys immunity from action.”
Among the most notable of the questionable transactions done last year by NICIL were the transfer of government land at Liliendaal and Pattensen, East Coast Demerara, to NICIL. This land, 103.88 acres, was in turn sold to National Hardware Guyana Limited for $600M.
According to Ram in analysis, there is nothing that would have prevented the government from selling the property to National Hardware and placing the money direct into the Consolidated Fund.
“Instead, the land is first vested in NICIL which then sells the land, holding the money which it can then spend as it pleases and pay into the Consolidated Fund whatever dividends its directors – all politicians – choose to pay.”
This is in direct violation to the Constitution and the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act which state monies should be placed in the Consolidated Fund, from which it can only be withdrawn with parliamentary approval.
Another questionable transaction was the dealing with the property, 6.88 acres at the north western side of the Kingston seawall, which was slated for a Marriott Hotel.
This land is earmarked for the Kingston Atlantic Hotel which is a 100 per cent owned subsidiary of NICIL and whose sole director is the CEO of NICIL.
“It would be hard to find a more improperly interconnected relationship even in a private setting. NICIL is 100 per cent state-owned. There is no indication that NICIL will be paying any money into the Consolidated Fund in 2011 or that it will become compliant with the Companies Act 1991 or the Public Corporations Act or have its annual reports laid in the National Assembly by its subject minister who is the Minister of Finance,” the accountant argued.
He noted that in no case is the price at which the properties sold by NICIL disclosed in the public records.
“Clearly the publication is intended merely to meet statutory requirements (in the National Gazette), and not to provide information. NICIL, most of whose board members are members of the Cabinet, has failed to file annual returns and audited financial statements with the Registrar of Companies.”
Ram claimed that in his opinion, the Constitution is subverted with the politicians controlling public moneys and the public is kept in the dark.
“Despite the egregiousness of these conditions, NICIL never receives even a token mention in the report of the Auditor General. It clearly is outside of the law. It must be hard to find its equal even in the most banana of republics.”
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