Gov’t not vindictive in re-possession of lands; Cevon’s transaction still “highly illegal” – Nandlall

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Attorney-General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, SC, on Wednesday, declared that the government is in no way running “a vindictive enterprise” in its bid to re-possess state lands that were illegally sold and awarded under the previous A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) coalition.

Nandlall said the government’s action in this regard is part of protecting the patrimony of the state.

This comes even as he confirmed moves by the government to review a decision to have Cevons Waste Management Inc. give up lands it procured for $100 million under the tenure of the APNU+AFC through the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission (GL&SC).

Nandlall said although the sale was being reviewed on a direct appeal by Cevons’ Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Morse Archer to President Irfaan Ali, the transaction remains highly illegal.

“Once we are satisfied that the investments that were made are genuine and that they are intended to create jobs and foster the public good, those transactions will be treated differently,” the Attorney-General told the News Room at the sidelines of a sitting of the National Assembly on Wednesday.

Providing an update on the matter that has attracted widespread attention, Nandlall said “the government’s policy is not one to re-possess lands given by a previous administration. It is not a vindictive enterprise in which we are engaged.”

Nandlall had written the company asking that they remove from the land where a state-of-the-art building has already been erected, and other portions sub-leased to foreign investors.

The Attorney General said Archer has explained to the President the process in which he was engaged, how he arrived at the position of getting a lease for the land, the monies already paid and invested while also outlining how the land will benefit Guyana and the number of jobs that will be created in that area of Georgetown.

“Those are significant factors which we will review and take into account… the review is ongoing and we have not committed one way or another. No doubt a lot of money has been expended but that does not negate the wrongdoing.

Nandlall said even if the government decides to act in Mr Archer’s favour, it does not make the wrongdoing right. He said legal steps will have to be taken to bring the transaction in regularity.

The AG insisted that the land was not owned by the GL&SC and as a consequence, the Commission had no authority to lease or even sell the land without the permission of the rightful owners, the National Sports Commission (NSC).

Archer had previously said that his company followed all guidelines and legal procedures in the purchase of a plot of land that the government is now seeking to repossess.

Archer is hoping for a resolution void of any legal showdown. He claimed the land was purchased from the GL&SC in 2018 for $100M of which $80M has already been paid.

The CEO said as per the written agreement with GL&SC, he was told that the transport for the land will take three years to be transferred and once that is done, the remaining $20M would be paid. In the interim, Archer explained, that he was granted a 50-year lease by the GL&SC which he is currently paying on simultaneously.

The CEO said he also received a government evaluation for the land, putting the value at $47M. He said despite this when he approached the Commission, he was told he has to pay $100M.

 

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