Oct 20, 2013 News
…Opposition says full blown probe needed
The Opposition has expressed alarm over admissions earlier this week that Government gave out lands to private developers over a year ago but only opened the process publicly to other players.
“Our party remains resolute in our statements that all is not well in the housing industry. We have been saying all along that the whole process stinks of nepotism. That is why we will be asking for Minister Irfaan Ali to come clean and tell us the details of the deals that have been worked out with these private developers. We believe that there is a cover-up for what is clearly a giveaway of state lands.”
Member of Parliament, Khemraj Ramjattan, is referring to investigations that his party, the Alliance For Change (AFC), and A Partnership For National Unity (APNU), are carrying out in relation to state lands that have been earmarked for housing, but large swaths have ended up in the hands of private developers.
The lands are on East Bank Demerara and stretch from Eccles to Providence. Reportedly, tracts of lands being opened up for housing between Herstelling and Diamond, have also been granted to a number of unnamed private developers but there is little clarity what process was used to allocate these.
Construction started over a year ago on some of the lands. Government has said that around 400 acres have been granted to private developers.
Last week, both AFC and APNU, which make up the Opposition in the National Assembly, signaled intentions to table questions in the coming Parliamentary session. The Opposition wants to know which private developers have been allocated lands; the amount paid; when it was paid and whether the process was advertised.
Last week, Minister of Housing, Irfaan Ali, said that 14 developers responded and have submitted proposals following advertisement for “expressions of interest” for land on East Bank Demerara.
The advertisements ran from June in the state-owned Guyana Chronicle, with a deadline for proposals on August 15.
Those that submitted proposals, according to the Housing Ministry, were Windsor Tech. Inc, Navigant Builders Inc., Queensville Housing Development, A and R Jiwanram Printery Inc., Buddy’s Housing Development, Ray Dan Housing Enterprise, DC Construction/Comfort Sleep, Caricom General Insurance Inc., Romell Jagroop General Construction Services, Lakeville Executive Homes Inc., Mr. Gentle P Elias & Mr. Brian Chase, Chung’s Global Enterprise, Hi Tech Construction Inc., and Prembury Consultants T&T Ltd.
It is this particular disclosure that has raised the eyebrows of the AFC and APNU.
“How are we advertising in June for proposals when several of these developers have been operating on lands for over a year now? Some of these firms have been selling lands and homes to people already. There seems to be something secret about this.”
According to the AFC leader, the only other explanation for the startling admission by Minister Ali is that a mistake has been made. “We are not asking the Minister for new proposals that have been submitted. We are asking clearly for details of the lands already allocated to private developers.”
Among the companies and persons granted lands for private development are Windsor Estates; Courtney Benn; Buddy’s; Caricom General Insurance and Odinga Lumumba.
According to the Member of Parliament (MP), the granting of major pieces of land to certain favoured businessmen, who then will “favour” the ruling PPP and its officials in return, is core policy under former President Bharrat Jagdeo which continues today.
“This blatant nepotism fortifies the PPP in its capacity to pay and get things done and to reveal itself as so well-oiled and organised, to the disadvantage of other social and political groups. It is corrupt and corrupting. It is a sort of rigging.”
Ramjattan said that AFC’s investigations are revealing that the “prime” lands were sold very cheaply by Government to their friends in 50 and 100 acres plots.
“The conditions attached to ensure that these lands be prepared for becoming proper housing schemes are not being done. Preparation here included the provision of drains and canals, roads, potable water to each lot, and electricity poles. Rather than investing in these amenities, these favoured businessmen are reselling the lots to members of the public at extraordinary prices.”
The AFC leader, a lawyer by profession, disclosed that he is aware that a number of purchasers have taken developers to court for breaching their obligations to provide the amenities.
“I have even advised some not to pay the balance of purchase price to some of these Shylocks, and others out there should not, if indeed amenities have not been provided for. The amount these purchasers have paid for a house lot ranges from $10M to $18M. When compared to the prices paid to Government by these businessmen per house lot, it ranges between $1M to $2M. The profit is indeed astronomical. The fat cats get even fatter.”
The downside of it is that potential homeowners have to pay high prices and not enjoy the intended amenities even when they manage to build. “The worst example of this nepotism, however, is what happened at Pradoville 2 where former President Jagdeo and a number of his officials became beneficiaries of one acre and half acre plots to build their fancy homes worth hundreds of millions of dollars.”
Not only was the land not even properly registered before distribution could occur, but over $200M in state resources was used to provide amenities.
Lands on the West Coast and East Coast Demerara have also been granted out in unclear circumstances.
Last week, APNU’s MP in charge of public infrastructure, Joseph Harmon, said that his faction was finalizing questions on housing issues for Minister Ali.
“We have been receiving a number of complaints and of course, with housing being such a critical issue, we want to know details of how the lands were granted to these private developers. We are not against development but the process must be fair and transparent.”
Government has admitted that it has very little land left for the thousands of applications it has on file and is now looking to the Soesdyke/Linden highway for new housing areas.
Jan 19, 2022Kaieteur News – It was announced yesterday at a press conference at the National Racquet Centre on Woolford Avenue, Georgetown, that six Guyanese will be among the 529 athletes from 60...
Jan 19, 2022
Jan 19, 2022
Jan 19, 2022
Jan 19, 2022
Jan 18, 2022
Freddie kissoon column Wednesday, January 19, 2022 Kaieteur News – I said to my wife in the kitchen last week that... more
Kaieteur News – How does one lift the level of discourse about historical revisionism without resorting to attacks... more
By Sir Ronald Sanders Kaieteur News – By 2030, it is more than likely that the eight independent Commonwealth Caribbean... more
Freedom of speech is our core value at Kaieteur News. If the letter/e-mail you sent was not published, and you believe that its contents were not libellous, let us know, please contact us by phone or email.
Feel free to send us your comments and/or criticisms.
Contact: 624-6456; 225-8452; 225-8458; 225-8463; 225-8465; 225-8473 or 225-8491.
Or by Email: [email protected] / [email protected]