President says no law broken over State House repairs

-expresses concern over City Hall, St George’s Cathedral

The recent repairing and repainting of a section of State House became necessary due to rotting wood and dilapidated windows, President David Granger said yesterday while insisting that no laws were broken in executing the works without the permission of the National Trust of Guyana.

“I am not aware that a law has been broken…I am not aware that in fact National Trust needs to worry about the present decision to ensure that State House is in good repair…it doesn’t leak”, Granger said following an accreditation ceremony at State House.

It was revealed last week that no communication was entered into with the National Trust of Guyana, which has overall responsibility for State House which is a heritage site.

“We have heritage buildings all around the country, some of them are collapsing. I weep when I see the condition of City Hall, St. George’s Cathedral and I am very concerned about preserving heritage. That’s why I’m repairing State House”, Granger told reporters.

He noted that the building was constructed in 1854 and “there is a lot of rot. Some of the windows were falling off and a decision was taken to repair the rotting portions and to repaint it”.

Observers have noted that it was not a question of whether any law had been broken but about protocol and procedure. This required the National Trust to be communicated with on the matter but they were ignored by the Ministry of the Presidency.

Nirvana Persaud, the Trust’s Chief Executive Officer, while informing that the repair works are welcomed had told Stabroek News on Friday that any major works, including repairs and repainting, must be communicated to the Trust. As a result, she said a letter would be penned to the Ministry of the Presidency (MoTP) about the matter.

Contacted yesterday Persaud, referred this newspaper to the MoTP Permanent Secretary, Abena Moore. Efforts to get a comment from Moore were futile as according to her secretary, she was in a meeting. Up to press time last evening no call was returned although this newspaper left contact information and explained what information was being sought.

Granger said yesterday that he has seen no letter from the Trust on the matter. “I have not received any letter from the National Trust”, he stressed.

Persaud had explained that the Trust was never officially told about any repairs but because of its close proximity to the President’s official residence, the works were noticeable. She had explained that the Trust is supposed to be informed about any plans to repair a heritage site. “We weren’t informed at all…,” she said before making it clear that the Trust has no problem with the repairs being done. “We welcome any historic property being repaired but recently ….we noticed they changed the colour… major changes, such as the colour and repairs, generally once it involves changes, ought to be communicated to us and discussed so that we are all on the same page. I know the President and us, we are for preservation,” she said.

According to Persaud, inquiries were made and the Trust was referred by State House’s administration to the MoTP and the Trust is in the process of following up.

”We are going be sending an official letter shortly to the Ministry of the Presidency”, she had said before expressing belief that the change in colour is linked to government’s plan to create a green state.

The repaired section which was originally white is now green.

The green paint has a broader context as it has been seen as a deliberate attempt by the government to perpetuate the predominant colour of the governing coalition. Green is also associated with A Partnership for National Unity and the People’s National Congress Reform, both of which are led by Granger. The Ministry of the Presidency is also being painted in the same green even though this had not been the original colour. At one point, canary yellow had also been introduced in the colour scheme of the Ministry of the Presidency but it was painted over. Yellow is the predominant colour of the other member of the governing coalition, the AFC. Weeks after winning the 2015 general election, green and yellow paint began appearing on a range of items in public places and this attracted criticisms.

Persaud had informed that she has noticed that more windows on the building have also been replaced with modern ones.

“It is a national monument under the National Trust law, so for that reason it should have been communicated. Maybe it was an oversight”, she had said.

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