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Granger administration spent GYD$1.6 billion on remodeling privately-owned building for Infectious Disease Hospital -Attorney General

Last Updated on Thursday, 6 August 2020, 20:57 by Denis Chabrol

-owner demands rent from new gov’t or removal 

The Infectious Disease Hospital at Liliendaal, East Coast Demerara is not owned by Guyana although a compulsory acquisition order was gazetted and GYD$1.6 billion of taxpayers’ money was spent on converting Ocean View International Hotel into the health care facility, Attorney General Anil Nandlall said.

Mr. Nandlall said the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL), government’s holding company of State assets, informed him that the Infectious Disease Hospital is not among its list of government assets. A compulsory acquisition order for the property had been published in the Official Gazette, but the Attorney General said everything was not finalised. “The compulsory acquisition order signifies the beginning of a process. That by itself constitutes nothing. It’s the beginning of a process that was never pursued,” he said.

The Attorney General said he would be studying the letter sent by Mr. Jacob Rambarran’s Attorney-at-Law Mr. Satram, demanding that several months rent at GYD$13 million per month be paid in keeping with a lease agreement. Finance Minister, Dr. Frank Anthony is also expected to prepare a report on the project for the next Cabinet meeting.

Mr. Nandlall said the deal appeared to raise serious questions about funding of the massive rehabilitation and remodeling of the Ocean View International Hotel because parliamentary approval was not received for the monies spent on such capital works.  Then President David Granger had issued a comprehensive COVID-19 Order that had authorised the Finance Minister to spend monies from the Consolidated Fund to help fight the disease.

The Attorney General expressed grave concern that public funds are being spent on a privately-owned building, saying that the entire deal smacked of illegality and unconstitutionality. “This type of wanton spending must amount to criminal conduct. This is one of the entities that will have to be deeply probed by the financial analysts and obviously by the police,” he said.