Sep 24, 2020 News
Three days before elections…
Leading up to the March 2nd elections, there were a flurry of transactions involving state properties.
In addition to questionable land deals at Ogle, there is one transaction now that has raised deep concerns about what else could have happened.
Three days before the March 2nd general and regional elections, the Board of Directors of the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission (GL&SC) sold Commissioner Trevor Benn a 2016 Toyota Land Cruiser Prado, worth around $25M at the time of purchase in 2016 for $2.5M.
The vehicle, registered on September 29th, 2016 listed Benn as the buyer, according to documents seen by Kaieteur News.
According to an internal memorandum, dated March 3rd, 2020 (one day after elections), the Board of Directors of the Commission took a decision three days before, on Friday, February 28th, 2020.
The decision concerned the “Disposal of Assets” and spoke about an “End of Contract” package for the commissioner/Chief Executive Officer. The decision was endorsed by the board and gave the commissioner a driver, to be maintained by the Commissioner for 24-hour use. He was also entitled to security detail along with a maid to clean his home.
It was disclosed in the internal memorandum that the Board on March 29, 2018, decided that officers using the Commission’s fleet of vehicles may have the option of purchasing the vehicle after three years of being assigned the vehicle.
Specifically, on February 28th, 2020, according to that internal document, the Board endorsed the purchase of the Prado, PVV 7771, at the “net book value” by Benn, with immediate effect.
The vehicle was purchased new by the Commissioner himself, for the GL&SC, on August 30th, 2016.
The same day the board took the decision (February 28th, 2020) was the day that Benn signed the agreement of Sale and Purchase.
The duties and taxes on similar vehicles could amount to as much as $16M, Kaieteur News was told.
There are strict rules concerning how state properties may be sold.
It will be recalled that the new administration, under President Irfaan Ali, decided to send Commissioner Benn on 42 days of his annual leave.
Benn was asked to prepare a document of all matters pending or in progress for President Irfaan Ali.
GL&SC has been placed under the Office of the President.
In the letter that was penned by the Permanent Secretary of the Office of the President, Abena Moore, it was further requested that the GL&SC commissioner prepare a handover/takeover statement to be given to Chief Executive Officer (CEO) acting, Enriqe Monize.
Notably, shortly after the People’s Progressive Party/ Civic had assumed office in August, President Ali had stripped the Commissioner of critical powers vested to him.
This move, Attorney General (AG), Anil Nandlall, had said, was intended to prevent the Commission from further sanctioning the renting and granting of leases, licence and permission of occupancy of all government lands.
Following the publication of the Official Gazette limiting the powers of the commissioner, AG Nandlall had announced that the government will be conducting a review of all the leases, licences and permissions to occupy Public Lands granted by the Commission following the December 2, 2018 No Confidence Vote.
The AG argued that the APNU+AFC Government was reduced to a caretaker status following the vote and hence was not authorized to issue documents related to land distribution.
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