…says NICIL connived with Executive to avoid Parliamentary oversight
Member of Parliament for A Partnership for National Unity’s (APNU), Desmond Trotman, has again petitioned the High Court to prevent the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL), Atlantic Hotel Inc (AHI) and their head, Winston Brassington, from mortgaging, leasing or in any way transferring the title of the land and building on which the Marriott Hotel sits in Kingston.
He has filed the action as head of the Committee for the Defence of the Constitution Inc.
Trotman, through an action filed by Senior Counsel, Rex Mc Kay, yesterday also sought to have the court grant a Conservatory Order restraining the Minister of Finance his servants or agents from encumbering, mortgaging, leasing or in any form transferring the properties.
The Conservatory Order is also meant to prevent the Finance Minister from empowering either NICIL, AHI or Brassington from dealing with mortgaging, encumbering, leasing or transferring the title of the property.
He is also looking to have the Court grant any other Order it may deem necessary.
In his affidavit, Trotman noted that NICIL is a wholly Government-owned company while AHI is a wholly owned subsidiary of NICIL.
He noted that by virtue of a vesting order issued in November 2010, the more than six acres of land on which the Marriott sits was transferred to NICIL.
This information was published in the Official Gazette and three years later the land was leased for 99 years by NICIL to AHI.
According to Trotman, he is advised by his lawyer that the Minister of Finance abused his Executive and Administrative powers when he, in bad faith, caused the land on which the Marriott Hotel sits to be transferred to AHI.
He is also challenging a purported sale of the land by NICIL to AHI for some US$1M.
This sale price, he said, was not documented in the Sale Agreement but rather in the transport.
Trotman also argued that the land on which the Marriott sits, run contiguous to the Atlantic Ocean and the Demerara River and were always used for recreational purposes by the general public and should retain their natural characteristics, since they fall within the common law principle of the ‘Public Trust’ doctrine.
He noted, too, that the Marriott Hotel is being jointly developed by AHI and NICIL using public funds, unauthorized by Parliament.
It was argued that NICIL disburses monies on expenditure outside of its business.
NICIL, he said, collects billions of dollars which should be directed to the Consolidated Fund but instead “with the connivance of the Executive and Minister of Finance” the money is deposited into several accounts at commercial banks.
These accounts, he said, are held in the name of NICIL and authorized by Brassington, any oversight from Parliament.
According to Trotman, “By retaining possession and control of its bank accounts, NICIL has the facility of disbursing moneys and making use of revenues or monies raised and received by Guyana with the Executive and Administrative connivance, with impunity.”
He charges too that despite the elaborate constitutional and statutory provisions to achieve fair, equitable, transparent, competitive and cost effective tender procedures, there was no open tendering for the construction of the Marriott Hotel as mandated by the Constitution and the Procurement Act.
Trotman is contending that as it relates to the Marriott, the sole purpose of the executive was to abuse its power by using NICIL and AHI unlawfully to circumvent parliamentary approval and oversight of the Marriott Project by flagrant violations of the Constitution and laws of Guyana.
The US$58M hotel has been controversial from the start with secrecy surrounding the investors. It was only recently, when the hotel is almost completed, that Government announced that it has found two Hong Kong-based businessmen as partners.
There have also been questions about the source of monies being used in the project but little answers. What is known is that Guyana has placed almost US$20M into the project.
Hoteliers, too, have been upset over the fact that Government was involved in what is considered a private sector project, especially in face of the fact that quite a number of hotels have been sold because of poor business.
The construction is being carried out by Shanghai Construction Group.
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