Jagdeo accepts responsibility for sale of lands by Ashni Singh, Brassington
By Devina Samaroo
Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo, who served as President from 1999 to 2011, has accepted full responsibility for the decisions which led to charges being laid against former Minister of Finance Dr Ashni Singh and the Head of the NICIL Winston Brassington.
Both men served under the former Jagdeo led administration, which sold millions of dollars of State lands reportedly under the market value.
Dr Singh and Brassington, who now reside overseas, have been officially charged by the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) and have been given three weeks by Chief Magistrate, Ann McLennan to make their appearance before the court.
Hours after the court hearing this morning, Jagdeo at a press conference explained that it was the Cabinet – which he chaired – that made the ultimate decision to authorise the sale of lands.
“There were Cabinet decisions on these matters…Brassington or Ashni Singh could not execute these decisions just like that…they followed procedure and received the approval of Cabinet…these are decisions of the Cabinet and I can justify every one of them,” Jagdeo stated.
He explained that the decision to sell the lands in that fashion was recommended by the Privatisation Unit and then the proposal went to the Privatisation Board which included representatives from the Private Sector, Labour movements and Consumer Affairs.
The recommendation then went to the Cabinet which accepted the decision and it was issued back to the Finance Ministry and NICIL to execute.
Jagdeo argued that there is nothing illegal about the transactions and contended that the charges are merely “frivolous”.
Regarding the sale of 103 acres of land to National Hardware Guyana Limited for GY$598M, Jagdeo said the transaction is above board because it went through a public tendering process and it was advertised in the newspapers for almost two months.
With respect to the sale of 10 acres of land at Turkeyen to Multicinema/MovieTowne for GY$185M, the former president explained that the plot was initially being sold to Shri Yogendra who could not complete the transaction which was at GY$16M per acre – which is below what was applied in the deal with Multicinema/MovieTowne.
And in relation to the sale of land to Scady Business Corporation at a cost of $150M, Jagdeo questioned why was the land sold the Giftland not part of the charges since those properties were sold for a cheaper price.
The Opposition Leader said this is just a matter of “procedural errors” and posited that if this is the root for charges to be laid then “the entire Cabinet should be in jail.”
“Where are the billions we were supposed to steal…that’s all you can charge on, procedural errors,” Jagdeo said.
Jagdeo promised that when the PPP returns to power, they will look for infractions of the law and ensure that those who are responsible face the full consequences.
We will look for infractions of the law, but not frivolous matters…we won’t have time to waste on frivolous issues…we will have investigations by impartial people…where there is misappropriation of assets those people will face the music….no public servant who is forced to do anything illegal if they keep records of being threatened to do these illegal things,” he declared.
Meanwhile, Jagdeo said he will be offering advice to the former Finance Minister and Head of NICIL on whether they should return to Guyana to face their charges.