Supergraphics Enterprise, another company that entered into an agreement with the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) to purchase lands while the then Government was in a caretaker mode, has agreed to return its 5 acres of land.
This was revealed in a statement on Monday by the company’s principal, Eton Cordis. According to Cordis, the Agreement of Sale he entered into with NICIL was for five acres of land at Ogle, East Coast Demerara (ECD), which would have been used to construct 95 premium apartments. However, the Agreement of Sale was entered into on June 15, 2020, over three months after a disputed election was held and just days after a recount of the votes proved that the incumbent A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government had lost the elections.
“Given the circumstances surrounding the vesting of that property, we announce that we have agreed to surrender our interests in those lands with NICIL. We look forward to working with NICIL and the Government of Guyana towards achieving our development goals,” Cordis said in his statement.
Supergraphics is the latest in a line of investors who had land vested to them by NICIL and former Finance Minister Winston Jordan, despite the fact that the Government was in a caretaker mode and as such, should not be entering into new agreements until elections are held and a new Government elected.
As of October 6, 2020, four companies had announced that they surrendered to NICIL, large tracts that were given to them under controversial and nontransparent circumstances by the then APNU/AFC caretaker Administration.
The companies that have since reverted lands to the State are Navigant Builders Incorporated – the developers of Windsor Estates; Cardiology Services Incorporated; the Corum Group; and American Marine Services Incorporated.
In all of those cases, the firms had expressed a desire to work with the new People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Administration to get the necessary approvals needed to pursue their respective developmental goals.
But these are just a few companies that benefited from lands under questionable circumstances under the previous Administration. In this regard, President Dr Irfaan Ali during a recent interview with this publication had made it clear that the Government cannot tolerate a situation where lands were allocated to persons and no monies were paid, but yet, vesting orders were issued. He had encouraged others to revert their lands and reapply in a transparent process.
Navigant Builders had received several acres of land at Goedverwagting and Sparendaam on the East Coast of Demerara (ECD) to develop a luxurious gated community under the Windsor Estates brand. Cardiology Services Incorporated, whose Managing Director is renowned cardiologist Dr Mahendra Carpen, had secured lands on the ECD to construct a state-of-the-art private hospital.
Corum Group, whose Managing Director is Clairmont Cummings, had acquired five acres of land at Ogle, ECD, to develop a high-class hotel under the Holiday Inns brand. American Marine Services Incorporated, which had received some 20 acres of land, had plans to construct a 247-unit residential complex.
In an interview with this publication last month following the initial return of State lands, Attorney General Anil Nandlall had been very critical of the transactions. He had pointed out that in some cases, the former Government vested lands to persons with partial and even no payments.
“The principles of transparency and accountability require State assets to be disposed in a particular way… either obtain a valuation certificate to determine the market value or advertise the property publicly and allow a fair and transparent process to take place so that everyone is offered a fair opportunity to compete for the property.”
“We had transactions where not only those procedures were violated, but where there was absolutely no money paid. Or only a fraction of the purchase paid and title passed to the purchaser. Now that is criminal conduct,” the AG had said.
According to him, this will be a thing of the past as the Government forges a new, more transparent path. Nandlall assured that the PPP Government will ensure State land which has to be sold is valuated and sold through a legal process, ensuring the State receives its due. (G3)