Apart from theatre intended to appease supporters of the coalition government, I am struggling to understand the case being made against former finance minister Ashni Singh and former head of NICIL Winston Brassington. Succinctly, by my comprehension, Singh and Brassington are charged with public misconduct for at various points in their ministerial and executive careers selling pieces of government land in and around Liliendaal below the valuation price or without doing a valuation. In their defence, the accused claim that they did nothing wrong as their actions were in keeping with the law and/or common practice and were agreed to by Cabinet and the NICIL board.
With regard to practice, there is an aptly titled letter ‘Many of the land sales by the Privatisation Unit looked at multiple development considerations’ in which Mr. Brassington gave examples to further buttress the defence’s contention (SN:2/5/2018). And leaning upon Odeen Ishmael’s ‘The Rush towards privatization 1989-1992’, former attorney general Anil Nandlall in support of the accused directed us to the late president Desmond Hoyte’s approach to privatisation, which he claims was highly untransparent and disadvantageous to Guyana. He claimed, for example, that many of the privatisation agreements were signed by Hoyte’s confidential secretary and that Demerara Woods Ltd was sold in 1991 to Lord Beaverbrook, who also obtained a 50-year lease for 1.1 million acres of rain forest, for £9.7 million. After some mergers, in 1992, Demerara Timbers was valued at £74 million and the rainforest concession alone was estimated at between US$160 million and US$206 million’ (SN: 5/5/2018)…..