Aug 02, 2017 News
– NICIL Head
The gifting of a plot of land by the former regime to China Railway Guyana Incorporated can be described at best, as “unusual behaviour.”
This is according to NICIL’s Head, Horace James. He was at the time being questioned on why NICIL, which is said to be broke, cares not to lift a finger to reclaim the gifted land.
The issue was also flagged by Chartered Accountant, Anand Goolsarran, in his forensic audit report on NICIL.
In the report, Goolsarran said that the land which was gifted to China Railway was initially GuySuCo’s. Kaieteur News had previously reported that GuySuCo was ordered to halt developmental negotiations because former President, Bharrat Jagdeo, had “other plans” for the land.
The land was gifted to the PPP government and it was subsequently gifted to NICIL. NICIL then disposed of the land to three companies, National Hardware, Multi Cinema Guyana and China Railway.
National Hardware and Multi Cinema secured sweetheart deals. National Hardware got 104 acres at $4.9M per acre while, Multi Cinemas Guyana secured 10.002 acres at $16M per acre. Both companies got good deals as another company was made to pay $32M per acre. Nevertheless, China Railway got an acre for free.
Records referred to in Goolsarran’s report indicated that NICIL gifted the land to China Railway the very day that Government gifted the land to NICIL.
James confirmed that indeed, NICIL is interested in the land. He said, however, that they have made no effort to recover it since it was done through a Cabinet decision, which from all indications, appears to be done in a proper manner.
The NICIL Head said, “We do want it (the land) but it was Cabinet that made the decision to gift the land. I know the Special Organized Crime Unit (SOCU) and the State Assets Recovery Unit (SARU) are looking at the file.”
Be that as it may, James said that he is unaware of any other instance where NICIL’s property was gifted to a “foreign” company. “It is unusual,” James emphasized.
He explained that a case can be made out for gifting NICIL lands to the Ministry of Business, for example, so that it can conduct certain projects but “certainly not to a foreign company.”
The matter was one which was first brought to the attention of the media by the Alliance for Change (AFC).
Based on a publication of the Official Gazette, the party found that one acre of land at Plantation Turkeyen, East Coast Demerara, as shown on a plan by D. Ramkarran, a sworn land surveyor and dated June 18, 2013 and signed by the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh on April 4, 2014, was transferred to NICIL.
NICIL then transferred it to China Railway Guyana Incorporated. There was no cost attached to the land transfer.
Local critics have since noted that moves should be made for the land to be repossessed. There have also been calls for sanctions to be imposed against those involved in the illicit transaction.
Goolsarran’s report says that Sub lot AA at Plantation Turkeyen was East Coast Demerara transferred as a gift via order No.16 2014 the same day that it was vested in NICIL via order No. 15/2014. Both orders were signed by the then Minister of Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh.
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