Kaieteur News Publisher, Glenn Lall, has filed an application in the High Court seeking to quash the June 11, sale of 130 acres of prime East Coast Demerara lands by the incumbent A Partnership For National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) Coalition government.
National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL), Finance Minister Winston Jordan and the Attorney General Basil Williams are listed as the respondents in the fixed date application drafted by Attorney-at-Law, Sanjeev Datadin.
According to the document, Lall is seeking a declaration from the Court that the de facto Finance Minister and NICIL had no power or authority to transfer state lands to any person or entity not under the control of the Minister, pursuant to Sections 8 and 11 of the Public Corporations Act (PCA); Cap. 19:05.
The application stipulates that Lall wants orders from the Court aimed at quashing the deals made on June 11, 2020 by Minister Jordan and NICIL that were published in the Official Gazette numbered Order No. 64, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72 and 73 – on the grounds that the sale was unlawful, made without legal authority, ultra vires, malicious, made in excess of jurisdiction, made without adequate legal consideration, null void and of no legal effect.
The Publisher filed the application in his capacity as a private citizen of Guyana.
According to the application, he referred to Sections 8 and 11 of the PCA which stipulates that the Minister of Finance is empowered to authorize the transfer of State properties from only entities of the State. The PCA and its provisions of vesting order in general are not intended to apply to private companies.
Section 8 of the PCA provides that “(1) The Minister may by order transfer to a corporation or to any other person, or place under its control the whole or a part of (a) any undertaking or any other property of any other corporation or any other person or other body corporate owned by the State or in which the controlling interest is vested in the State or any agency on behalf of the State; (b) any commercial, manufacturing or research undertaking of the State; and (2) The corporation, other body corporate, or undertaking affected by an order made under subsection (1) shall comply with any directions which may be given to it by, or under the direction of the Minister so as to give effect to the order.”
Those specific sections, the Claimant contends cannot be employed to transfer property owned by NICIL to any private individual.
He noted that the all of the entities to which the land were sold are private companies and that the PCA and its provisions of vesting orders in general are not applicable to private companies which meant that the purported transfer by Minister Jordan was unlawful, ultra vires and null and void.
“The essential and key precondition of the statue is that it applies to property of State being transferred to an entity under the control of the Minister, there is no authority to vest the specific State to these companies as mentioned in Orders published in the Official Gazette,” the application said.
After the filing of the application, Lall explained that “the patrimony of this country must be disposed of transparently and in a manner which ensures value for money.” He added that “if the lands and the country’s natural resources, which are being given out, are done in a transparent manner and at real market value, Guyana can alleviate poverty, eliminate its foreign debt and triple the salaries of public servants.”
He said, too, he will continue with his efforts, regardless of which government is in place, to ensure the best deal for the people of this country.
Lall said that what is taking place with the disposal of the nation’s wealth has been taking a toll on his physical and emotional health. He noted that for the past 27 years his newspaper has been reporting on numerous acts of skullduggery in relation to public resources. He said that he decided that henceforth he will not just be reporting on these issues but also will be doing whatever is within his means to protect the interests of the Guyanese people.The massive land deal came to light after the vesting orders, bearing Minister Jordan’s signature were
posted on Facebook, immediately raising questions as to how so many acres of land were sold in a day and also mounting suspicions that the incumbent Coalition government may be giving away lands before demitting office.
The lands were handed over to Bosai Minerals Group (Guyana) Incorporated (General Manager, Eric Yu); Premier Sales Incorporated; American Marine and Services Incorporated; Trinuyana Investments Incorporated (Director, John Aboud); Cardiology Services Incorporated; Supergraphics Enterprise (Owner, Eton Cordis); Navigant Builders (Owner, Danny Sawh); Caribbean Marketing Enterprise Incorporated (Director, Mike Elliot); GUYOIL (CEO, Renatta Exeter); and Earl’s Court Incorporated.
NICIL, the entity charged with handling State investments, shortly after the vesting orders made their rounds, issued a statement in a bid to offer clarity on the deal. NICIL said that Finance Minister had no involvement in the selection process.
According to NICIL, “Minister Jordan is not a member of the NICIL Board nor is he involved in the day to day business of NICIL or the SPU.” This is despite his signature is on the vesting orders.
To give context to the sales, NICIL said, “We wish to remind the public that NICIL through the SPU, sold lands that were vested to it by the Government of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana. NICIL received deposits for the lands commencing December 2019.”
NICIL explained that despite December being the commencement of the financial transactions, they were incomplete as the vesting orders were not signed and Gazetted, as required by law. They said it was necessary to have the orders Gazetted so that the investors could complete their payments, and so that NICIL could acquire finances for the $30B GuySuCo bond.
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