Aug 15, 2020 News Comments Off on Acres of land vested by NICIL without payment – Jagdeo
– Agency operating without financial scrutiny
Vice-President Bharrat Jagdeo said yesterday that within the week that the People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C) has assumed government, it has unearthed a number of concerning details ranging from squandering of government funds to the mismanagement of assets committed under the previous government. He revealed, specifically, that the PPP/C administration has discovered that the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) body had transferred acres of land to private citizens and companies without collecting any monies.
During a press engagement yesterday at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC), Jagdeo related that he has seen evidence of large properties vested in individual and companies’ names, without documentation that they had been paid for.
“Now, that’s a transfer”, Jagdeo said, “Once it’s vested, it’s transferred to them without them paying the requisite fee or price, or paying a small portion of the sale price.”
One case of this practice dates back to early July, when Kaieteur News had reported that despite refusing an offer on three separate occasions and holding an outstanding $925M balance on the transaction, housing developer, Navigant Builders, was gifted 30 acres of prime lands in Ogle on the East Coast of Demerara (ECD) by NICIL. These 30 acres form part of a total 1,000 acres of prime lands, said to be worth billions of dollars, which have been opened by NICIL for commercial development.
According to vesting orders, which were published in the Official Gazette in June, 123 acres of lands were given to 10 developers. These include Supergraphics (5.058 acres); GUYOIL (1.500 acres); the Residences at Earl’s Court Incorporated (10.281 acres); Navigant Builders Incorporated (30.000 acres); Premier Sales and Services Incorporated (5.015 acres); Trinuyana Investments Incorporated (19.678 acres), Caribbean Marketing Enterprise Incorporated (21.096 acres), American Marine Services Incorporated (20.000 acres) and Cardiology Incorporated (8.000 acres).
The VP went on to state that the new administration has requested a number of documents regarding the sale of state assets, but noted, however, that “a lot of them have not been produced.” He shared, in fact, that NICIL has selectively submitted some of these documents to the government. He reminded that during the campaign season, the PPP/C had advocated for transparency, as he maintains that the citizens must know who bought the state lands, at what prices, along with ascertaining what procurement methods were utilized.
He added, “You know, all the sugar assets were transferred to NICIL, and NICIL owns GuySuCo at this point in time because the shares were transferred to NICIL too.”
The VP added that the government has requested a list of all the assets that were disposed of by NICIL on the estates of Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo), including the large properties that were situated on the estates, along with the method in which the assets were disposed of. He noted, however, that NICIL has so far failed to provide those lists.
According to Jagdeo, the last NICIL audit was in 2014 when the PPP/C was in office, a situation the new government has sought to remedy in part by the installation of a new board.
“[They have not] had an audit of their accounts for the past five years,” he said, “We asked about the loan, the bond. We’re told just over $17B were received by the government, and the balance now is just over $4B remaining in NICIL. There are a whole range of other issues that can’t be dealt with remotely, and that is why we thought it so urgent to put in place a board because the tonnes of assets there that the people of the country need to know what transpired with these assets.”
Notably, Jagdeo indicated that the PPP/C has seen evidence of change in contracts, like removal of certain clauses from certain leases, depending on who is acquiring the asset. He promised to release further details of the land sales once the government becomes in receipt of them.
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