…says ‘nothing untoward happened’
“I don’t get involved in anything that is bacchanal and we were given the assurances that everything was above board and we delivered. We made a commitment. I think the land then was valued at let’s say US$2 million, we paid US$1 million. For that million US, you get another US$40 million on top of that, plus you get the employment and all that we are going to generate so… that shouldn’t be a matter that anybody should want to go to court on. This is how investments work. Some countries give you the land free in return for the investment.”
These were the words of MovieTowne Guyana Chairman, Derek Chin as he addressed the criminal charges against two former Government officials in relation to the sale of a plot of land to MovieTowne Guyana.
In April, former Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh and former head of the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL), Winston Brassington were charged with three counts of misconduct in public office.
One of the charges was in relation to the sale of land to Multi-Cinema Guyana. The charge stated that on May 14, 2011, while Singh was the Finance Minister and Brassington was the Chairman of NICIL, they sold a tract of land of 10.002 acres, letter A-A being a portion of Plantation Turkeyen situated in Greater Georgetown and property of Guyana for the sum of $185,037,000 without procuring a valuation of the said property from a competent valuation officer.
According to Chin, the issue has since become a nuisance as he tries to complete his project.
The businessman noted that the price he paid was a “good one” and had he not stuck to the terms of the initial arrangement, then the issue should have engaged the attention of the courts.
He noted that the investment should be looked at holistically, since he would have expended over US$45 million to date.
Chin added that MovieTowne Guyana is a sustainable investment with the intention being to expand and build similar franchises throughout Guyana.
“Nothing untoward happened… at that time I could very well say that I am not interested. This is going to stimulate more and more economic activities and if the reports are positive then you will have more and more investors coming to Guyana,” Chin said.
Meanwhile, Private Sector Commission Chairman, Eddie Boyer said the land was sold reasonably, adding that the entire valuation system in Guyana needs to be overhauled.
“Our whole valuation process needs to be overhauled. If you look at valuation for properties, there are a lot of inconsistences. We don’t have proper valuation that you can actually get the values. If you go to the Valuation Office and you ask three of them to value, half of them are not qualified and they cannot value what is the actual value so therefore, we used what we will pay and that is what’s happening here,” Boyer noted.