In response to media queries about the low price of land for his Pradoville 2 mansion, Bharrat Jagdeo said that the Burnham family also got state land for a song. In the context in which the controversy swirled, it could easily be interpreted to mean, that like Jagdeo, Forbes Burnham also awarded himself land cheaply when he was President. The story is entirely different.
The Burnham family had a lease of three acres behind the Botanic Gardens in the eighties. About twenty-five years after, the family applied for prescriptive rights which people naturally do under the law. In 2010, the Jagdeo regime abolished prescriptive rights, which the present government needs to reexamine.
After the death of Mrs. Viola Burnham, the daughters sold two of the three acres to China Trading. Mr. Kamana Burnham, the President’s adopted son, was left with one acre on which he presently lives in the family house. In fairness to the correct recording of history, Mr. Kamana Burnham objected to the sale of all three acres. Out of obligation to the objectivity of political analysis, it must be noted that the Burnham daughters did receive an awesome sum for the two acres.
It is crass indecent politicking to compare the Pradoville 2 depravity with the three-acre occupancy of the Burnham family. To landscape the Pradoville 2 estate, 100 million dollars were used to remove and relocate the old transmitting radio towers that occupied the space where Pradoville 2 is. Vast sums were spent on laying pipes, electricity poles and other infrastructural works. This was state money that was spent.
It would be a monumental act of injustice if there wasn’t an investigation by the APNU/AFC Government into the Pradoville 2 scandal. Efforts should be made to recoup money from the propertied owners who now occupy the land on which rest their mansions.
One of the owners is the daughter of former President, Donald Ramotar, Lisaveta. Why her name is mentioned is because of what she said in an interview with this newspaper, Ms. Ramotar currently holds the job of CEO of the Guyana Gold Board which she secured during the presidency of her father; the other competitor was Yog Mahadeo, former CEO of GT&T, who holds a doctorate in business management.
Ms. Ramotar said in that interview that she cannot accept people’s criticism of the scholarship and employment she and her brother got, because after all, they are Guyanese citizens and should be treated like every other citizen, and not as the children of the President.
The press needs to ask Lisaveta Ramotar if in the Pradoville 2 purchase, she and others who now have mansions there were treated like other citizens. Before we continue on to the purchasing power of China Trading, for those who don’t know it, Lisaveta’s brother, Alexei, in charge of the E-cable operations, has been dismissed from his Office of the President job for non-performance.
Alexei gave a statement to the press saying his removal was political. He didn’t state if the original appointment to the office was political. The ethnic-based group, Indian Arrival Committee (IAC) wants an investigation into the removal of certain public sector personnel who were closely associated with the PPP when the party was in office. But surely, why removal only and not acquisition? How were the jobs acquired in the first place? In a forthcoming column we will analyze the demand of the IAC and how Bibi Shadick became the Pro-Chancellor of UG. Back to the investment hegemony of China Trading.
According to the Stabroek News of April 8, 2010, Odinga Lumumba bought about an acre of land next to the Chinese Embassy for $1.5M and sold it to businessman, Loaknauth “Deo” Maraj for $38M. In the Kaieteur News of April 19, 2010, Lumumba said he paid $2.5M. Mr. Maraj then sold it to China Trading for a sum that one can only describe as gigantic. This Maraj plot is across the road from the two acres that China Trading bought from the Burnham daughters.
Here is where Bharrat Jagdeo as President comes in. From a mere one acre bought from Maraj, China Trading expanded north and now has 65 acres of land opposite the Botanic Gardens, next to the Continental Agencies plot (which President Hoyte sold to Continental Agencies for the purpose of building a hotel which 25 years after, there has not been construction, and which this column will examine later). Important to note is that those 65 acres when sold to China Trading was state land. Who sold it?
The tenure of Bharrat Jagdeo needs a judicial enquiry.
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