Mar 13, 2017 News
– Anil Nandlall
By Brushell Blackman
Former Attorney General, Anil Nandlall and lawyer for a number of former ministers of government under the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) administration is contending that if recipients of Pradoville 2 house lots are made to pay market value for those plots, then all Guyanese who are recipients of house lots from government should pay market values as well.
It was the view of the current government when it was in opposition, that the Pradoville 2 recipients obtained large areas of land at the prime Sparendaam, Goedverwagting area for a substantially lower price ($1.5M) than what they should have paid.
When A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance for Change (AFC) coalition took up the seat of governance, forensic audits were done to assess that project and a number of worrying issues were found; not least among them was the price paid for those house lots.
Recently, former Minister of Natural Resources and Pradoville 2 house lot recipient, Robert Persaud said that he was amenable to paying the true value for his plot. However, Nandlall said that Persaud is free to take whatever position he deems necessary based on the advice of his attorney Mark Waldron.
The former Attorney General said that such a position will not be taken by any member of the PPP/C or any of the persons he is representing in the Pradoville 2 probe and stated that Persaud is no longer a member of the PPP/C.
According to Nandlall, for time immemorial government has always been subsidizing housing, so that it is made affordable for every Guyanese to own their own home and government functionaries are no different.
Nandlall said that there is no law preventing anyone from receiving subsidy for lands bought from the government and he is baffled as to why there should be a different approach to the Pradoville 2 recipients.
He proffered that should his PPP/C colleagues be made to pay any additional cost for those lands, then every Guyanese that bought house lots from the government, past and present should be made to pay the market value as well. According to him, Pradoville 2 house lot owners had to rake out monies to do developmental work on those lands to bring them to acceptable standards as did every other citizen who bought lots.
However, the former Attorney General did not address some unique issues at that controversial scheme. It is believed that a special Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI) pipeline was run for more than a mile into that scheme. There is also a special electrical cable run under ground by the Guyana Power and Light (GPL) to serve the needs of those living at Pradoville 2. These are not privileges that will be afforded to regular housing schemes according to a housing official.
Significant sums from the state were spent also on the construction of roads, drainage networks and other works at Pradoville 2. The developed house lots, complete with infrastructure, were then sold below market value to several ministers and Government officials.
According to details of the allocation, former president Bharrat Jagdeo received two parcels equivalent to two acres.
On it, he built an imposing mansion complete with pool, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.
He reportedly paid a total of $9.8M. He had owned a property along the Ogle Airport Road in the community that was known as ‘Pradoville One’. However, he sold that property to Trinidadian advertising executive, Ernie Ross.
Jagdeo’s payment for the Pradoville 2 parcels translated to $5M per acre which works out at $114 per square foot. Other Guyanese paid $317 per square foot for his plot.
Additionally, the sale of the Pradoville 2 house lots for such a low price would contrast starkly with what remigrants had to pay under the Government’s scheme for returning to Guyana. They paid more than ten times the price Jagdeo paid for the same size house lot. They paid $1,111 per square foot.
The ordinary house lots for remigrants and citizens are not ocean-front, but are located on the East Bank and East Coast of Demerara, in what were abandoned cane fields.
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