Former President Bharat Jagdeo yesterday reiterated his call for the declaration of assets by all members of parliament saying if government acquiesces he will be the first to make public not only his local assets but those held outside Guyana also.
“I am still hopeful that they will agree to my proposal that we go jointly to Parliament to make public the assets of the members of parliament and former president’s etcetera own, especially abroad, with a penalty of five years in prison for lying,” Jagdeo said yesterday.
Asked if he was willing to lead the charge, Jagdeo exclaimed, “Of course! Of course! I can’t be calling for it and not willing to be part. Yes, I will!”
However, he has said in the past that it is unfair to calculate the profits made on homes sold by ministers in the controversial Pradoville 2 Housing Scheme by using the value of the empty land as the base.
“They did not sell a land. They sold a land and a house. They bought the land from the government so when you talk about this 2000 percentage profit margin you are comparing the selling price (of land and house) with the land price,” Jagdeo had reasoned
He believes that the public calculations of the profits made when his ministers sold their homes do not do justice to the fact that they spent millions building houses on the land.
“They talk about the ministers selling and how they sell the land at 2000 times the price … but it’s not the land they sold alone. Remember, they had to buy a land and fill up the land, build a house on it. The house costs money too,” he posited.
According to a report recently completed by the State Assets Recovery Unit (SARU) and seen by Stabroek News, the Pradoville 2 land on the East Coast Demerara was sold to former ministers and known friends and associates of the previous regime. “At the time of the sale, the lands were grossly undervalued and sold substantially lower than the market value for the land thereby depriving the state of its full benefits,” it said, while noting that the lands were sold for $114 per square foot.
The ministers who were said to have benefited are Jennifer Westford, Priya Manickchand, Clement Rohee and Robert Persaud.
Jagdeo owns almost two acres of land in the scheme, where he currently lives.