Tens of billions invested in Guyana as a result of the work of Brassington,…

first_imgDear Editor,Winston Brassington and Dr Ashni Singh are being charged not because they did their job poorly or recklessly or without due diligence. They are being charged because they did their work brilliantly. These gentlemen are not being charged because they broke Guyana’s law; they are being charged under English common law, with an application that has never been applied in Guyana. These gentlemen are not being charged for recent transactions.The APNU/AFC politically-controlled SOCU is charging them for transactions completed almost a decade ago. And for transactions that were approved by a very experienced Privatisation Board (and then Cabinet) made up of seasoned representatives from the Private Sector, labour, and consumer bodies.Brassington and Singh are being charged for transactions going back 7-10 years and which were fully approved by the Cabinet. The purchasers have invested billions of dollars into the Guyana economy.As former President Jagdeo has said, these charges are frivolous. As former President Ramotar also said last week: <<<“The announcement in the Chronicle that Dr Ashni Singh and Mr Winston Brassington have been charged;  ‘….for alleged misconduct in public office…’ reveals the vindictiveness of this APNU+AFC regime. This is clearly an attempt to destroy the professional lives of these two gentlemen. Their only ‘crime’ being that they worked dedicatedly to promote this country and our people’s interests while the PPP/Civic was in office. As a former President who worked with these two outstanding Guyanese men, I can vouch for their uprightness, professionalism and integrity while in public office. This latest attack on Dr Singh and Mr Brassington is a continuation of the witch-hunting and the racial and political discrimination that has characterised this APNU+AFC regime since it took office in May of 2015. Not content in forcing these outstanding gentlemen to seek employment outside of Guyana, they now seem determined to destroy their professional lives. We cannot build a country with such vindictiveness and spite.”>>>Apart from the vast privatisation and public-private partnerships that these gentlemen have worked on, that have generated tens of billions in investment, saved thousands of jobs, and generated revenue and taxes for the Treasury, Brassington and Singh have transparently sold many pieces of land that were never developed or underdeveloped. These land sales created tens of billions of dollars of investment.In 2012, President Ramotar issued an 84-page report titled “Privatisation in Tables—Phase II (1993-2011).” This report was prepared by Winston Brassington. Ashni Singh was Chairman of the Privatisation Board and the NICIL Board. This 2012 report is the most comprehensive report on privatisation transactions ever issued in the history of Guyana.The charges. If we start with the 100 acres of land sold to National Hardware Limited. This land was publicly tendered in 2009, almost 10 years ago. NHL was the highest tender with a price of $516 million plus VAT. This transaction was approved by the Privatisation Board in November 2009 and the Cabinet in November 2009. Title was conveyed the following year. Prior to the sale, the land was a cow pasture. To date, NHL has spent billions of dollars to put in electricity, water, roads, bridges, drainage, and fencing. This is a gated community. Any of the purchasers of land in this gated community would have spent tens of millions of dollars to build their homes. This is major real estate development. As such, this publicly advertised deal for an empty piece of land has created billions of dollars in investment. The value of the land is determined by market bidding. Everyone could have tendered. The tendered price works out at about $5 million per acre.If we go to a piece of land in the same vicinity, west of the Convention Centre. This sale was negotiated and sold to Scady Business Corp, at a price substantially higher than the market price at the time at over G$25 million per acre. Scady is owned by the main shareholder of RUSAL. RUSAL has caused tens of billions to be invested in the Berbice bauxite industry and has saved hundreds of jobs. One may recall in 2001 when ALCOA said it would close its Berbice bauxite mine and exit Guyana. Government stepped in to keep the company open while searching for investors. RUSAL was the only investor. Today, despite very high production costs, RUSAL, with its partner Oldendorff, has invested over US$150 million (over G$30 billion) in the Berbice operations. So, such a land sale above market price, to a key shareholder of RUSAL, is not a giveaway. It is part of advancing relations and investment in Guyana. Again, this transaction was approved by the Privatisation Board and Cabinet.The third transaction again deals with an empty piece of land on the opposite side of the railway embankment road to the abovementioned land transactions. This land was previously sold by the PNC Government to Toolsie Persaud. After a long battle, the CCJ finally ruled in Government’s favour and the land was returned to Government.Government then sought to open up the land for development. The land was previously tendered, but was not sold as the Government then earmarked a portion of this land for the Specialty Hospital with funding committed by the Indian Government. Balancing the goals of getting good value for land, and promoting investment, after setting aside the land for the Specialty Hospital, 10 acres of the remaining land were sold to Multi Cinemas (Guyana) Inc, the owners of MovieTowne in Trinidad. The sale price was again a very good price, with the price per acre close to $16 million per acre. Again, this transaction was approved by the Privatisation Board and Cabinet in 2011, almost seven years ago. Since the sale, over US$30 million (over G$6 billion) has been committed to this project.Even before the above transactions, Giftland leased from the PPP Government, a large piece of land at Liliendaal to build its mall and cinemas. This land was not tendered. Giftland has an option to buy its land, at US$12 million per acre a price that is lower than the sale prices to Scady and Multi-Cinemas. After much delay, Giftland developed its land with substantial investments into the property. This was one of the first projects declared open by the APNU Government.Under the PPP, the economy has seen its longest period of economic growth in the history of the country. This is no accident. Singh’s and Brassington’s contributions have been significant, under the leadership of Jagdeo and Ramotar.Sincerely,Concerned citizenlast_img read more

Only 10 per cent of Haitians crossing illegally getting refugee status so

first_imgOTTAWA – The majority of asylum seekers who have crossed illegally into Canada so far this year were Haitian and so far, only 10 per cent of their claims have been accepted, newly released data showed Wednesday.Since February, the Immigration and Refugee Board has received 14,467 claims in total from what they call irregular border crossers, and the overall acceptance rate sits at 60 per cent.The fact that the number of successful Haitian claims is “very low” should serve as a cautionary tale for those still contemplating crossing into Canada illegally from the U.S. to seek asylum, said Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen.“Coming to Canada first of all has to be done through regular channels, and secondly the asylum system is only for people who are in genuine need of protection,” Hussen said.“It’s not for everyone.”People have been crossing into Canada between official checkpoints in increasing numbers since the start of the year, but the summer months saw a major surge after the U.S. government notified those who hold temporary protected status in that country that their status would be under review.Just under 60,000 Haitians are covered by the policy that protects against deportation. In the weeks after the Trump administration’s initial announcement, some began making the trek north to Canada to try and seek asylum here, propelled in part by misinformation online suggesting Canada has special programs for those affected by the policy.At one point in late July and early August, the number surged to upwards of 250 a day. The rate has since fallen dramatically, but fears it could spike again ramped up this week as the U.S. announced it is in fact ending the policy for Haitians, known as TPS, as of July 2019.“We’re continuing to plan ahead,” Hussen said Wednesday.That includes a meeting scheduled Thursday with federal and provincial officials overseeing the asylum issue at the border. Among other things, they’ll review the statistics from the IRB, which break down the claims by country of alleged persecution.Haiti is at the top with 6,304 claims in total. Only 298 have been finalized, 29 accepted. Next is Nigeria, with 1,911 claims overall, and after that is Turkey at 631.Those whose claims are rejected do have avenues of appeal, and if those fail, they face deportation.Hussen said he didn’t know how many border crossers were pursuing appeals, nor how many — if any — had been removed from Canada. He said people often choose to leave voluntarily, but didn’t know whether that was the case for any members of the summer cohort.After the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Canada had temporarily paused deportation to the country. But Canada resumed deportations this year.Conservative immigration critic Michelle Rempel said she’s troubled by the fact that only a fraction of the claims received by the IRB have been heard. Of the over 14,000 they’ve received, they’ve only finalized 1,572.“The IRB is so backlogged, it will get out into the community — you can enter the country illegally, and not have your case heard for a significant period of time while still being able to access social support services,” Rempel said.“To me, the government is going to have to get on top of that quickly.”last_img read more