The senior Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission (GL&SC) official entangled in alleged breaches of procedure involving surveying for the Santa Fe mega farm in the Rupununi has been sent on another month’s leave and following this is expected to immediately proceed on pre-retirement leave.
Stabroek News was told that the official recently wrote the Commission’s Board and informed them that he would return to work last Monday, which he did. Prior to going on leave, the official had submitted his resignation and proceeded on pre-retirement leave but the Board subsequently began to probe the breaches, which would have seen the GL&SC losing millions of dollars for a survey. A source told Stabroek News that upon his return to the office, the official was ordered to proceed on an additional month’s leave then on pre-retirement leave.
President Donald Ramotar had ordered the probe but had no answers when asked about the issue during a news conference on Saturday at State House. He said that he had received a preliminary report on the issue and sent it to the Board of the GL&SC to deal with. “I don’t wanna deal with these matters in a political way,” he said adding that the matter is occupying the board.
Other officials are also mum on the probe. Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment Robert Persaud has not responded to questions from Stabroek News on the issue. The questions were sent four weeks ago and despite reminders and a promise that he would do so, the minister is yet to respond.
Stabroek News was told that there are also other issues involving payments made by other companies to the official for surveying.
Ramotar had intervened after senior GL&SC officials complained to him and other government officials about the Santa Fe survey, which would have seen the GL&SC losing over $10 million.
The president ordered that the privately done survey be cancelled and redone by the GL&SC. An investigation was also initiated and correspondence among officials which was seen by Stabroek News indicated rifts within the agency.
The GL&SC has statutory responsibility for all public lands in Guyana and based on the correspondence, Santa Fe was in the process of contracting surveying work to a private contractor, a move which was not welcomed by some senior officials but was approved by the senior official who was sent on leave.
“The survey could have been done by GL&SC, but it appears that a private surveyor is being identified for the work, which could result in the loss of revenue for GL&SC of over $10 million,” Commissioner of the GL&SC Doorga Persaud had said in correspondence to top officials, including Ramotar and Head of the Presidential Secretariat Dr Roger Luncheon.
In the correspondence, which was seen by Stabroek News, Persaud said that following the instructions of the President, he was going to cancel all arrangements for a private surveyor to do the work in Region Nine and that the GL&SC would conduct the survey. The Board then commenced an investigation.