By Abena Rockcliffe
The A Partnership for National Unity and Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) government is set to review a number of “sweetheart deals” that have been entered into during the People’s Progressive Party/Civic tenure in government. The new government has a “suspicion” that vast lands were handed to friends of the PPP for “almost pennies.”
The Minister of State, Joseph Harmon and the Junior Minister of Communities with direct responsibility for Housing, Keith Scott told Kaieteur News that the review will begin “very soon.”
Scott had said that he was meaning to begin the review but was caught up with preparing for Budget and subsequently got caught up in Budget debates and deliberations.
Minister Scott promised, “as soon as the Budget is completed I will definitely look at it.”
Scott pointed out that the land being used by Sunset Lakes, a Chinese-owned company with close associations to BaiShanLin, will certainly be checked on as the public never knew what exactly was this company’s deal with the government.
In a separate interview, Minister Harmon told Kaieteur News that while there may not be much that the government can do at this point about the “sweetheart deals”, his administration is still very much interested in knowing how much the state benefitted from the sale of those vast lands.
He reminded that when he was in opposition, representing A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) as shadow Minister of Housing, “I highlighted to the media that these were sweetheart deals and that out resources were being given away, but no one took me seriously.”
Sunset Lakes is one of the companies lucky enough to source prime land. The company has close association to BaiShanLin, a pet company of the former government.
Sunset Lakes has ventured into developing a massive housing community in Providence on the East Bank of Demerara, just behind the National Stadium. The name of the housing scheme is ‘New Life Community’.
Before he became President, APNU leader, David Granger told the media that his coalition had an interest in the project and wants to know the details. He disclosed that Harmon, APNU’s General Secretary, was the one who is handling the investigation.
Harmon sought to find out the deal between the government and the owners of Sunset Lakes Inc.
He wanted to find out the amount of money paid for the lands, how many ways Guyana will benefit, what qualified the Chinese company for the endeavor and when was the deal made between the Guyana government and the Asian Nationals.
Sunset Lakes made quite an impression on patrons who attended Guyana’s largest trade fair, GuyExpo. Sunset Lakes and the controversial Asian logging company, BaiShanLin shared a tent at the fair and the same officials handled the affairs of both booths.
Representatives of the two companies boasted that Sunset Lakes is offering, for the first time in Guyana, a five star state-of-the-art gated community where all modern amenities will be offered.
When Kaieteur News visited the booth at GuyExpo, the newspaper was told that the houses range “to suit all kinds of people”. The company has decided to have different sizes of houses, with the smallest house costing $50M and the largest, $130M.
A brochure shared out at Guyexpo stated, “We at Sunset Lakes Inc. take great pleasure in introducing to you, for the first time in Guyana, a Five Star State-of-the-Art Gated Residence, offering all prestigious and modern amenities to ensure you live that deeply desired New Life.”
The New Life Community, according to the website, offers a complete luxury package, including supermarket, bar, post office, telecommunication, swimming pool, gymnasium among other services to make life for Guyanese more convenient and delightful.
Odinga Lumumba, PPP Member of Parliament was also able to grab vast lands. He also owns a Housing scheme. Kaieteur New understands that several other local businessmen were also prime beneficiaries of the “giveaways.”
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