As the investigations continue into the giveaway of prime state lands by the Guyana Lands and Survey Commission (GLSC), it was discovered that the Commission transferred lands belonging to the National Sports Commission (NSC) to a private individual.
According to Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister, Anil Nandlall, that individual later subleased the large plot of land to a fast food chain outlet, garnering millions in revenue.
“One portion of land that was given to someone else by the GLSC was not even owned by or under the administration of the Lands and Surveys Commission. It is owned by the National Sport Commission and given to a businessman who has sublet it to a food chain outlet drawing tens of thousands of US dollars in income per month,” Nandlall disclosed.
A competitive bidding process should have been engaged, the AG explained. However, no evidence was found that this was done. Not only that, Guyana’s State Lands Act has provisions to prevent the subleasing of state lands.
“All these transactions are going to be made public in due course because they are state property, public lands and the state lands act imposes certain restrictions on how to deal with state lands,” the AG added.
Guyana’s State Lands Act clearly stipulates that whenever State lands are leased, the lease agreement must indicate that the lessee “SHALL NOT” part with lands (possession) or “SHALL NOT” assign the interest in the said agreement without the consent of the State.
It states too that in the event that there is going to be a transfer to a third party, the State reserves to right to step in and repossess the lands, reverting ownership back to the State.
But this feature seemed to have been disregarded by the Commission, as was done by the National Industrial & Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) also under investigation.
With the NICIL land leases, a specific clause was altered to state “the lessee may divest the land, may part with possession, may assign it to a third-party interest” – an insertion that saw hundreds of acres of prime lands being resold and transferred with the State acquiring zero revenue from the transactions.
The thing is in a horrible mess,” Nandlall continued “and it stinks of unaccountability and lack of transparency.”
Under the previous administration, the NSC was chaired by Ivan Persaud and included Christopher Jones, Nigel Hinds, Seon Erskine, Lavern Fraser, Igna Henry, Edison Jefford, Aliann Pompey along with Ramnaresh Sarwan.
Notably, also on the Sports Commission was James Bond, who is currently at the center of investigations regarding his involvement in the giveaway of state lands at Peter’s Hall.