Gov’t must continue to facilitate MovieTowne project

Dear Editor,

“Owners of the ambitious MovieTowne mall are complaining of the red tape in getting business done, yesterday appealing for help from Government.

Speaking shortly before a guided tour of parts of the Turkeyen, East Coast Demerara complex yesterday, Guyana-born Chairman, Derek Chin, made it clear that he badly wants the facilities here up and running. However, there seems to be no point person here to deal with the project.” This is a quote from a news article in Wednesday’s edition of Kaieteur News.

This news is not good for promoting an enabling investment climate. Notwith-standing that this project was initiated under the former government and that the land might have been sold to Chin below market price, the current Government should not frustrate, or allow its agencies to frustrate the process. Jobs are going to be created here and Guyana’s entertainment and food options will enjoy international brands.

What the current government should have been doing is talking to Chin about investing with small farmers, with government, with small manufacturers in ventures that are needed to support the operations of the complex. Most of the food being offered at this complex should be sourced locally through a reliable supply arrangement that would ensure the required quality vegetables, plantains, fruit, eggs, meat, peppers etc. I would like to suggest to the Government that it immediately enters into discussions with Chin to move this project along while encouraging him to look at putting in place mechanisms to provide for local farmers/manufacturers to be contract suppliers of quality produce and products.

There are those on social media who point to the fact that there is a case in the Courts against Messrs. Singh and Brassington regarding the sale of government land and other assets below market value to various companies and investors including Chin. This is a fact. But nowhere, at least up to now, has Chin been accused of any wrongdoing. My understanding of the charges brought so far against the two former government operatives are not for receiving kickbacks or any bribes from Chin or anyone else. There is no injunction, or application for an injunction before the Court to halt this project.

Unless and/or until Mr. Chin is alleged, let alone is charged with having been involved in any corrupt act concerning this project, the Government of Guyana must continue to facilitate through discussion and negotiation, in keeping with the agreement he has signed, the development of this investment. He signed an agreement with the Government of Guyana, not the PPP/C.

If on the other hand, the government has suspicion or evidence of wrongdoing on Mr. Chin’s part, then it should so inform him.

It is no secret that governments around the world, including Guyana under Presi-dent Hoyte sold land and distressed companies to investors below market value so as to save and modernize those companies. The incentives offered are usually dependent on the level of investment to be made and the contribution of the activity to socio-economic development including job creation. Many countries have also amended their Alien Land Holding Act to facilitate foreign investment especially for hotel development and large scale manufacturing.

I find it unfortunate that this issue has to play out in the media. Did Mr. Chin and the Private Sector Commission (PSC) exhaust all efforts for a meeting with the Government?

Yours faithfully,

Wesley Kirton

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