Mar 24, 2016 News
Construction giant, BK International Inc., which purchased 100 acres of prime lands aback of the National Stadium in Providence, East Bank Demerara, was allowed to breach several parts of its agreement with the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA).
The authority took no action to force Sunset Lakes Inc, BK’s subsidiary that was developing the lands, to meet deadlines although it was handed over since early 2011.
Sunset Lakes, which was registered to Brian Tiwarie, the owner of BK International, is now in the control of Chinese logging investor, BaiShanLin Forest Development.
BK had said that BaiShanLin was partnering with his company to develop the lands and that it was not sold.
However, CH&PA has no documents to say how BaiShanLin took control. It is unclear what monies BK received and whether taxes were paid on it.
According to CH&PA documents, on February 21, 2011, the authority’s Chief Executive Officer, Myrna Pitt, wrote Tiwarie, the Managing Director of BK International, indicating that 100 acres has been identified at the Eccles/Providence location.
Pitt made it clear to Tiwari that the lands were being sold for the development of land, construction and sale of houses only.
The 100 acres were divided into two plots- the first 71.09 acres were being sold for $5M per acre while the remaining 28.91
acres for $4M per acre. The total cost was $471.09M
Sunset Lakes agreed to complete infrastructural works, including paved roads, drainage, electricity and water networks within three months of agreement being signed.
Tiwarie agreed that the land must only be utilized for the purpose it was allocated– the development of land, construction and sale of houses only.
It appeared that although Tiwarie was informed of the lands in February 2011, it was not until three years later, in February 2014, that an agreement of sale was inked. CH&PA held onto it for Sunset Lakes for three years.
By then the price was inexplicably reduced to $458M, from the original costs of $471M.
Within months after signing the agreement with CH&PA in 2014, Tiwarie and Sunset Lakes handed over the property to BaiShanLin.
The Chinese company in turn, shortly after, unveiled an ambitious gated community project.
But that development along the East Bank Demerara corridor is in deep trouble with works stalled for months now.
The particulars of the sale of the 100-acre plot by Sunset Lakes Inc. to BaiShanLin Forest Development Inc. is not only raising eyebrows but has fallen under the radar of the new administration. A review of the Sale and Purchase agreement is underway.
Sunset Lakes was late last year ordered to attend a meeting with then Minister within the Ministry of Communities, Keith Scott, and other officials of the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA), to explain the delays.
From all indications, Sunset Lakes breached the agreement by selling the entire plot without building any homes.
How the developer was able to get away with the breaches would raise troubling questions about CH&PA’s monitoring of the housing projects during the reign of the previous PPP/C administration, especially as thousands of persons are on file awaiting house lots.
According to the generous clauses of the “Agreement of Sale and Purchase” entered into on February 7, 2014, the 100-acre plot was sold for $458.18M with 25 percent or $114.54M handed over as an advance.
Some 35 percent or $160.36M would have been paid after CH&PA would have evaluated the infrastructural works completed by Sunset Lakes.
Under the agreement, Sunset Lakes was to hand over the final $183.27M when the Block Certificate of title for the 100 acres was passed.
With the basic infrastructural works still incomplete, it meant that CH&PA only collected $114M.
Tiwarie also agreed to complete the construction of the homes within 24 months and ensure 100 percent occupancy, or face a fine of 25 percent of the market value of the land.
The ambitious gated community was talked about since 2012. The Guyana Chronicle in July that year quoted Tiwarie as identifying Sunset Lakes as one of the highlights for that year’s Building Exposition.
The logging company reportedly offered US$9M for the 100 acres plot but still owes another US$3M.
In October 2014, during the GuyExpo trade fair at the Sophia Exhibition, BaiShanLin announced the gated community called “New Life” with a huge display. Prices for homes were from $50M and reaching over $100M.
In its Facebook page, Sunset Lakes scaled back, offering some of the homes from $40M and others at $70M.
BaiShanLin is facing tough times, with its aggressive entry into the logging sector and the unusually large tax and other concessions it was granted under the previous administration.
It has failed to build a US$70M wood processing plant in Linden despite drawing down on the monies from China Development Bank.
It is believed that the monies were diverted to housing and into gold mining. Several of its projects are delayed and lying still.
The BaiShanLin/Sunset Lakes growing scandal would seem to be only a tip of the iceberg when it comes to the lands allocated to the private developers.
What is known is that CH&PA is now reporting that it has about 25,000 applications on file with only 5,000 to be addressed in the coming five years.
The new administration has said that housing developments, especially on the East Bank of Demerara, are facing delays because of contractors’ tardiness and poor oversight.
CH&PA is facing questions over its administration of the lands and other housing programmes.
Today, a new Board of Directors is set to meet and decide whether it will vote to send home two senior staffers to make way for investigations.
Recently, it was disclosed that several close friends of the PPP/C administration benefitted from lands on the East Bank of Demerara.
Among them is Ravie Ramcharitar, a Director of Queens Atlantic Investments Inc, a company owned by Dr. Ranjisinghi ‘Bobby’ Ramroop. Ramroop is the best friend of former President Bharrat Jagdeo.
Benefitting also from 35 acres behind Golden Grove was Mohamed ‘Arafat’ Qualander, a close friend of former President Donald Ramotar.
Former Finance Minister, Saisnarine Kowlessar, was another person who received lands.
An investigation is currently ongoing into the ‘Remigrant’ Scheme, at Providence.
From indications, CH&PA took it upon itself to determine who were remigrants, a determination that is made by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
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