By Jomo Paul
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Former President Bharrat Jagdeo leased a prime piece of development land opposite the Headquarters of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) to convicted fraudster Edul Ahmad for just $500,000 per year.
This was revealed by Minister of State, Joseph Harmon at a post cabinet press briefing on Thursday, December 10 as he detailed one instance of corruption under the former Administration.
Harmon told the news conference that the deal between the Former President and the businessman was completed in a matter of days and reek of “corruption.”
According to Harmon, even while the piece of land was the subject of a dispute between the then Government and the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU), the PPP Government moved ahead with the lease.
He revealed that Ahmad applied for the lease on May 22, 2008; the application was approved on May 27. A survey which has legal implications was done one day later and the said survey was registered on May 29, the Minister of State told reporters.
“Notice has to be served when you are doing a survey on surrounding land owners and they have to be given an opportunity to object…There is a time stipulated for them to file objection to the Lands and Survey Commission,” Harmon explained.
This transaction culminated with the lease being issued to the businessman on May 30, 2008 and the process, which usually takes a longer period, took place in a matter of eight days, Harmon revealed.
The process, he said, “reeks of extreme efficiency in the conduct of government services… All of this you can call it administrative efficiency.”
It was revealed that while Ahmad made an initial payment of $500,000 for the lease, no other payments were made and the government would now be moving to repossess the property.
The land was leased to develop a Hotel that would include 150 rooms, a casino, and a bar, among other amenities. It was noted that after a certain period of time, Ahmad would have been allowed to purchase the land from the State
“So when Mr Jagdeo speaks of these corruption and to bring the evidence, here it is,” said Harmon.