It is the position of the parliamentary opposition, that all contracts signed between the State and housing developers should be enforced if the agreements were breached in any way by the developer.
Recently, Kaieteur News published articles concerning two controversial land deals regarding housing development deals that were signed with the State involving BaiShanLin and Roopnarine ‘Ravie’ Ramcharitar.
Responding to these articles, Opposition Leader and former President, Bharrat Jagdeo said that the opposition will support the government in enforcing agreements with private developers.
Jagdeo was at the time making his opening statements at a press conference held at the Office of the Leader of the Opposition yesterday.
“So what should the government do? And they have our full support; it is to enforce the agreement with these developers. If they (the developers) did not do what they promised to do, then there must be a penalty for not doing what they promised to do.”
Jagdeo explained that the two specific land sales and the signing of the contracts occurred under the People’s Progressive Party Civic administration. He said that there was a public advertisement published in 2010 inviting expressions of interest for housing development at the proposed Eccles to Mocha housing development.
“It (the advertisement) outlines all the conditions that people have to fulfil in expressing interest through a public process. It was an advertisement in the newspaper. As a result of this advertisement, people submitted proposals for development. They had a contract; they got land at a particular price in exchange for commitments that they made.”
Jagdeo said that approaching private developers was his government’s way of accelerating development of the housing programme. He said that each developer had a contract with conditions that they would have to satisfy to get the land and develop it.
“If they breach any of these conditions then the government has the authority, the power to enforce on these contracts.”
Further, Jagdeo said that after the reports appeared in the Kaieteur News, he sought some clarity from the then Minister of Housing, Irfaan Ali. He said that Ali told him that the sale of the lands was done following a public process, and that it was advertised.
Jagdeo said that he further enquired whether the contracts were all standard contracts and that this was confirmed by Ali. He said that the contracts did not differ from any contract offered to other housing developers.
“The same company that was written about in the Kaieteur News in a spectacular fashion has a contract like every other company, with obligations. Now it is our contention that if people have contracts with the government or the State, governments change, but the obligations remain the same.”
The Opposition Leader went further to say that he is aware that there are other developers that are in breach of their contracts with the government. He said that the opposition would also support the government enforcing the contracts against those developers if they are found to be in default of the performance of their obligations.
“So if every one of these guys breaches the contracts which they got through a publicly tendered process, then they must be held accountable. This is our position on these matters. It’s simple, If you break the law, you have a contract and you profiteer and you should not have profiteered, (make money when you should have done the development), then the state needs to enforce it, and we will support the enforcement action of the state, because those contracts were concluded with us.”
Jagdeo said that the same standard should be applied to Baishanlin.
“They had agreements to develop facilities in Linden, a processing plant…they didn’t do it. Then the state had the right to intervene and say all the duty free (items) that you brought in for that project you have to account for it, because there was a contract.”
The Opposition Leader went further and refuted claims that the contracts were part of an underhand deal. He said that if it were so, then there would not have been contracts with obligations to the developers.
“If it was underhand, they would have had just an outright sale of the land to them at a low price and that’s the end of it.”
Concerning BaiShanLin, 100 acres of land was sold by the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) for US$2.2M to a company, Sunset Lakes, owned by local businessman Brian Tiwarie in 2014 to develop a gated community. However, eight weeks after that, the company was sold to Baishanlin for US$8M.
However, the CH&PA has commenced legal action seeking a declaration that the Authority is entitled to rescind the Agreement of Sale and Purchase made and entered into at Georgetown, Guyana between the Authority and Sunset Lakes in February 2014.
Further, based on information received, Roopnarine ‘Ravie’ Ramcharitar also benefited from 28.8 acres of land at a cost of $173M. However, shortly after acquiring those lands, and in breach of his agreement with the CH&PA, resold those lands for three times the price, over $570M.
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