…demanded $24M per acre from other company
By Abena Rockcliffe
More information has surfaced about how Former President Bharrat Jagdeo secured wealth and assets for his friends at the expense of the state.
Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) could have been in a better position if only it was allowed to go ahead with certain plans, said an official. However, those plans were halted on the call of Jagdeo while he was President. He had eyed GuySuCo lands for his friends.
A former GuySuCo Chairman, who spoke to Kaieteur News on condition of anonymity, said that under his tenure, there was a “fully functioning” Land Committee. That committee, he said, would look at each application for GuySuCo lands on individual merit.
He said that back then lands were sold and some were gifted but in a very transparent manner. Those gifted were to religious bodies and sometimes charitable organizations. That Chairman added that the lands used for the development of Diamond Housing Scheme were from GuySuCo. “We gifted wisely and we were able to contribute to the development of Guyana.”
The Chairman said that things started to change after the PPP Administration started to have a direct say as to what should be documented as lands “gifted.” NICIL was subsequently given responsibility to sell GuySuCo lands.
Kaieteur News understands that the development of such a culture resulted in much losses for GuySuCo.
In just one instance GuySuCo was deprived of making over US$20M just because, according to the former Chairman, “We were told the President had other plans for a plot of land.”
GuySuCo was getting ready to seal a lucrative deal through the sale of just over 100 acres of land at Liliendaal, East Coast Demerara, to Housing Construction Limited but the process was halted by the Jagdeo government. Housing Construction Limited is a Trinidadian Company.
A top GuySuCo official at the time, said, “The government was very much aware that we were getting ready to sell and it is because of that they decided to take the lands.”
A document titled Privatization in Tables Phase 11 (1993 to 2011) shows that those lands were basically gifted to Eddie Boyer. Boyer is the owner of National Hardware and a friend of Jagdeo’s.
The document was prepared by NICIL Director, Winston Brassington.
Page 38 of that document, item 61, showed that Boyer under the name of his company, National Hardware was sold 103.88 acres for $510M (US2.55M)—$4.9M per acre.
The document showed that other buyers of land in Liliendaal paid way more than Boyer paid.
Scady Business Corp. paid $115M for 4.7 acres — $23M per acre. Even though the circumstances surrounding that sale are questionable, Boyer was essentially handed the lands at a gift price.
The transactions were also flagged in the NICIL audit report done by Chartered Accountant and Former Auditor General, Anand Goolsarran.
Goolsarran, in his report, said that “By order No. 45 of 2008 dated 29 December 2008, 209.344 acres of land at Block LPT lettered XXX were transferred from GuySuCo to the government of Guyana. Of this amount, 103.88 acres were transferred to NICIL via order No. 4/2010 dated 12 March 2010. Three months later, on 17 June 2010, NICIL sold the said land to National Hardware for $510M via order No. 43 of 2010. This works out to 4.9M per acre.
He noted too, “By order No. 47/2008 dated 30 December 2008 4.7 acres of land at RU Plantation Liliendaal was transferred from the Government of Guyana to NICIL. NICIL in turn sold the property on 2 January 2009, a mere two days later, for $115 M to Scady Business Corporation, an overseas company based in Tortola, British Virgin Islands . This is further evidence of the sale of land without any form of competitive bidding.”
Contacted yesterday, Boyer denied that he was given a favorable deal. Presented with the information about the purchase deal, and asked to comment, Boyer’s first response was, “When? What?
Boyer then told Kaieteur News that the price was the “highest price ever paid for land in Guyana.”
He added, “This was a piece of property that was advertised in your newspapers. It was advertised in the Kaieteur News, Stabroek News, Chronicle or whoever and I was a bidder for that property. That is all you have to know. If you want you can go back and check, simple. It was advertised.”
Asked how much he paid, Boyer replied, “Why must I tell you how much I paid for the land? It does not have to be public knowledge. It was government land; GuySuCo or whoever sold the land can tell you.”
Further, Boyer asked, “Why should I disclose how much? Tell me why should I.”
Boyer told Kaieteur News that he was the only bidder for the land. “I got it and that was the end of that.”