-Says National Trust of Guyana to be housed at site
– Occupants given 2 days to vacate premises
President David Granger has ordered that the lease for the building known as The Red House to the Cheddi Jagan Research Centre Incorporated (CJRCI) be revoked and that the occupants vacate the property by December 31, 2016.
According to a government release, the Head of State handed down these instructions today in a letter to State Minister,Joseph Harmon, “more than one year after the Coalition Government had engaged the CJRCI on the matter of the lease.”
Negotiations for The Red House to provide a national service by housing information on all of the Presidents of Guyana was ongoing during that period said the release. “Those negotiations proved futile and, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams said that after discussions broke down, he sought to determine the legality of the lease agreement.”
Having considered the advice of the Minister of Legal Affairs, President Granger has concluded that it would be in the public’s interest for the lease issued to the CJRCI to be revoked and has also directed the Minister of State that the building be assigned to house “The National Trust of Guyana, its staff, stores and equipment”, currently housed in the Valerie Rodway Building on Carmichael Street, with effect from January 1, 2017, “where it would be better able to fulfil its mandate to preserve Guyana’s national patrimony and to promote an appreciation for the nation’s heritage.”
In a statement issued on Wednesday, December 28, 2016, Minister Williams said his investigations revealed that the lease held by the CJRCI is invalid on several grounds, including that there is no evidence that the President of the day had sanctioned it. On March 30, 2012 The Red House lease agreement was initiated without the approval of either the President of the Day or The National Trust of Guyana, which is in contravention of Section 10 of the Lands Department Act Chapter 59:01, rendering it void.
The statement also said that on March 21, 2000, the CJRCI was incorporated as “a not-for-profit company” by late former President Janet Jagan, her daughter Ms. Nadira Jagan-Brancier and former President Donald Ramotar, who was then the General Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C), with the aim of establishing a library and research facility to contain the works and documents owned by the late President Cheddi Jagan.
The Attorney General had said that the 99-year lease “was not executed in the manner of a transport, that is advertised and passed before the Court, nor was it filed as of record and annotation made against the Property by the Registrar of Deeds.”
The statement further noted that in Section 4 of the State Lands Act Chapter 62:01 said that State Lands can only be converted into Government Lands with the sanction of the President of the Day and on the terms and conditions determined by this office bearer and there is no formal evidence of sanction or approval by the then President.
The Attorney General maintains that all the parties knew that The Red House “at all material times was a heritage site, both building and lands under the National Trust Act Chapter 20:03”. Further, the CL&S is the custodian of all Government Lands…”that is why there must be evidence of the President approving leases under Section 10 of the Lands Department Act Chapter 59:01”.