AFC probing links between Patil Group Chairman, specialty hospital builder

The AFC is investigating reported links between the Chairman of the D Y Patil Group, Dr Ajeenkya D Y Patil and specialty hospital contractor Surendra Engineering.

Questions have been raised about the deal struck between the government and the Patil group particularly because of  the latter’s connection to powerbrokers here and because the government has provided no information on it.

The Group’s Chairman is also  Honorary Consul for Guyana in Mumbai and his corporation sealed a Memorandum of Understanding for 65,000 acres of land in the Canje Basin to be used for agriculture development.

“The AFC continues to investigate this issue because initially we were told that there was some connection between that Mumbai person and Surendra Engineering and we are trying our best to get that at this stage. It will further prove that indeed these kinds of appointments, like so many, are most incestuous,” AFC leader Khemraj Ramjattan stated yesterday.

With the recent revelation that the D Y Patil Group and former President Bharrat Jagdeo did have a history, critics have noted that it would not  be a far cry to expect that Surendra Engineering would also have close ties.

Surendra was given the contract to build the Specialty Hospital on the East Coast despite not having a track record in this area. Previously, the same firm was responsible for the construction of the US$12.5M Enmore Packaging Plant. The Agriculture Ministry had also purchased 14 pumps from Surendra, all of which finally arrived in Guyana just this year. Further, its name had been mentioned as possibly providing management expertise to the beleaguered Guyana Sugar Corpora-tion.

Ramjattan said that the AFC has been reaching out to various sources in India but noted that information was not easily accessible. Ramjattan stated that Dr Patil’s appointment was potentially done against someone with more professional credentials in India “but it goes to show we also are going to reward people not only with big contracts here in Guyana in relation to our natural resources but in addition to that supplement it with political or what you call foreign affairs office appointments on our behalf and that is not nice at all but it proves the incestuousness.”

Head of the Presidential Secretariat Dr Roger Luncheon stated at his weekly press conference that he was not yet prepared to answer questions about either of the Memoranda of Under-standing (MoUs) between the government of Guyana and the D Y Patil Group nor China Paper, which was granted 60,000 hectares in the intermediate savannahs for pulp and paper production.

Luncheon was responding to a Stabroek News article in which APNU’s Shadow Agriculture Minister Dr Rupert Roopnaraine called for the government to “come clean” on the MoUs and what exactly they outlined. Dr Luncheon stated that he would be providing further details at his next press briefing.

Both opposition parties have come out asking the government to operate in a more transparent manner. While the government proclaims that the various deals are being done in straightforward ways, critics have stated that if that is the case there should be ample information provided. Stabroek News has tried repeatedly to speak with Agriculture Minister Dr Leslie Ramsammy as well as a representative from Go-Invest to fully understand when the MOUs were signed and what the details outlined would have stated to no avail. Prior to the reportage in the last Sunday Stabroek and Monday’s Stabroek News, there had been no information from the government on the details of MoUs clinched with the two companies.

The D Y Patil Group is said to have hired a Guyanese manager and it has started cultivating 10,000 hectares. China Paper is at an advanced stage as it was advertising in the Sunday Stabroek for a local firm to provide environmental and logistical services.

Both the Indian and the Chinese companies are  agriculture giants in their home countries. China Paper is state-owned while the founder of the D Y Patil Group and the current chairman’s father, Dnyandeo Yashwantrao Patil, is the governor of the Bihar state in India.

Roopnaraine previously told this publication that the connections between the D Y Patil Group’s Chairman, Dr Ajeenkya D Y Patil, and former President Jagdeo were “very telling of the intricate web of connected interests.” He also revealed that there was no prior knowledge that former president and Dr Patil both received honorary doctorates from the University of Lancaster. Roopnaraine stated that even Dr Patil’s appointment as Guyana’s Honorary Consul in Mumbai was not public knowledge. The D Y Patil Group was reportedly given approval for timber logging which is much sought after by Indian and Chinese companies.

The last reference to the D Y Patil Group’s MoU from the government came in the form of a release from the Government Information Agency (GINA) on July 20, 2013 about Guyana’s potential as an agricultural investment hotspot for Middle East investors.

China Paper came to public notice when it advertised in local newspapers for the services of a competent local firm to provide environmental and logistical services for its operations.

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