Some time in the early seventies, our now late father, David Singh loaned a family property located at 91 Smythe Street, Georgetown, to the People’s National Congress (PNC). David Singh was a Minister in the PNC government from 1969 until 1973, when he was appointed Guyana’s first Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China.
Following his sudden death in 1978, our mother, Thelma Singh continued to allow the PNC to occupy the property. Her commitment to the party was such that she accepted an appointment to serve that government at the Guyana High Commission in London in 1979 and at the Guyana Consulate in New York until her career ended in 1993, very shortly after the People’s Progressive Party took office.
A year ago we decided to dispose of the property. With the entire family living abroad and without any immediate plans to return to Guyana, this seemed to be a cost-effective alternative to keeping the property, which was subject to rates and taxes that were, ultimately, our retired mother’s responsibility.
The first step in the process was to ensure that the title was unencumbered by any liens or things of that nature. We determined that unpaid rates and taxes were the only impediment. Given the substantial amount due, our mother wrote to the Mayor of Georgetown, Mr. Hamilton Green, on February 16, 2007, requesting a waiver of the accrued interest. She also sought permission to settle the balance in instalments.
By September of 2007, in the absence of any response, she proffered a cheque to the Mayor’s office, as an initial payment towards the rates and taxes. An undated General Rate Demand Notice was issued very shortly afterwards, in the name of the People’s National Congress, setting out the amounts owed with a proposed payment schedule and the cheque for G$300,000 was returned.
On October 12, 2007, our mother wrote to the Mayor and Deputy Mayor, seeking reconsideration of her request for a reduction in the taxes. She also telephoned Robert Corbin, Leader of the PNC to ask that they vacate the premises by the end of 2007, in order to facilitate a subsequent conveyance. In November of 2007, on Mr Corbin’s advice, she sent a letter outlining her position to Oscar Clarke, the General Secretary of the PNC. In a letter dated December 8, 2007, Mr. Clarke advised that: “The Party’s records in relation to this property clearly show that it was a gift to the Party by your late husband David Arthur Singh