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NICIL spent GYD$70 M on developing Pradoville 2 lands; Brassington denies knowing intended beneficiaries

Last Updated on Monday, 21 December 2015, 22:37 by GxMedia

An aerial view of former President, Bharrat Jagdeo’s residence at Pradoville 2

The Head of the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL), Winston Brassington Monday denied having any knowledge that the development of lands at Pradoville 2 were for top elected and other officials of the previous government.

Brassington said all that NICIL was required to do was to spend more than GYD$70 million on developing the land at Goedverwagting-Sparendaam for the purpose of housing in accordance with a decision by the previous administration.  The money, he said, was spent on constructing a road to the now seaside , upscale community, the provision of potable water and the removal of the Dorcas Club to allow southern access to the East Coast Demerara Highway. Brassington further explained that the Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Roger Luncheon had up to earlier 2015 undertaken to ensure that those funds were repaid by Central Housing.

He said the lands were allocated by the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) and the Ministry of Housing, when asked whether he had been aware that the land was being developed for the current occupants. “NICIL had no knowledge or role in the development of the house-lots. NICIL did not enter into any agreements of sale or receive any monies,” he said. Pressed on whether he was aware who would have been the intended land occupants, he said he did not.

Asked if in hindsight he felt complicit in a deal that saw lands being allocated to those officials, he said “I am an officer of NICIL. I acted on the proper authority based on written Cabinet decisions directing us to act.

Brassington- who has been under intense fire in some quarters based on a forensic audit of NICIL and the Privatisation Unit by former Auditor General Anand Goolsarran- said he was obliged to take legal instructions. “In an organisation, there is a hierarchy. Am an officer…Unless it’s illegal, I am compelled to follow those directions,” he said.

He said the National Communications Network’s antenna tower and transmission station were not removed from Sparendaam to facilitate housing development but instead to clear the flight path for aircraft as part of plans to upgrade Ogle Airport to international aviation standards.

Former parliamentarian, Desmond Trotman and the Committee for the Defence of the Constitution in September, 2015 moved to the High Court to have the lands returned to government because several rules have been either allegedly broken or bypassed to develop them and then sell them cheaply to several persons associated with the then People’s Progressive Party as well as others.

On February 21, 2013, Manickchand sold her land, building and erections for GUY$100 million to David Narine and on August 23, 2012 Persaud sold his land, building and erections to LSR Inc for GUY$90 million.

By September 2010,  parcels each measuring 0.3030 of an acre were sold to Robert Persaud, Shaik Baksh, Clement Rohee, Lisaveta Ramotar, Dr. Compton Bourne and Priya Manickchand for GUY$1,515,000. In the case of Jagdeo, he purchased 0.4603 of an acre for GUY$2,301,500 and 1.5 acres for GUY$7.5 million. Jennifer Westford bought 0.3186 of an acre for GUY$1,593,000 and G.Singh and wife paid GUY$1,502,000 for 0.3005 of an acre.

The applicants listed the following known supporters of the People’s Progressive Party and government employees who benefitted from “government’s largesse” :  Andrew Ranji Bishop, Florrie Loretta Ramnauth, Rajendra Singh (former Chief Executive Officer of the Guyana Sugar Corporation ), Safraz Khan, and Ramesh Dookhoo who each purchased 0.3005 of an acre for GUY$1,502,000. Others are George Hallaq and Nada Hallaq who paid GUY$5 million for 0.8422 of an acre, and Future Developers International(Guyana) Inc whose sole director is Dr. Rajendra Singh purchased 0.5534 of an acre for GUY$3 million.

Moeenul Hack and the Director of Public Prosecutions, Shalimar Hack paid GUY$1,488,744 for 0.2767 of an acre, and then Chief of staff of the Guyana Defence Force purchased 0.3005 of an acre for GUY$1,502,500.

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December 2015