US-based Guyanese industrial engineer defends lease of 500 acres of Linden land to her

Sharon Benjamin-Fauconier

A letter published in the April 30th issue of the Kaieteur News ascribing political cronyism to the granting of a 500-acre of land in Linden to a Guyanese-born, US-based woman based on a proposal submitted for investment in a number of technology-driven initiatives which she says is aimed at raising the level of technological development in the community as generating hundreds of jobs has drawn sharp criticism from the investor who has dismissed its claims as “ill-informed, without foundation and clearly bent on mischief that derives from a thoroughly contrived perspective.”.

Sharon Benjamin-Fauconier

Sharon Benjamin-Fauconier, a Linden-born Industrial Engineer who, just over a month ago, spoke with the Stabroek Business regarding the acquisition of a lease by a company which she heads named the Guyana Initiative Against Climate Change (GIACC) (story published in the Friday March 22 issue of the Stabroek Business) for 503 acres of land for a multi-layered, technology-based project, has released a lengthy statement following publication in the Kaieteur News of the letter under the pen of “Ronald Singh” alluding to what the letter describes as “a state lease of 503 acres of prime real estate around ‘blue water lake in Linden…to a woman from North America to pack fertilizer.” The writer of the letter had asserted that the lease had raised  “many questions” since, according the writer, the recipient had not, up to the time of writing, “set eyes or feet on the lands granted to her…Secondly, this activity of packaging fertilizer questions the need for the 503 acres of prime lands at this particular area of Linden.”

In the March interview with the Stabroek Business  Benjamin-Fauconier, a Guyanese and a Lindener, had provided some details of the lease agreement and listed some of the initiatives which the overall project embodied. During the interview she had said that the project envisaged a “long-term, integrated industrial business powered exclusively by renewable energy and which, when operational, will provide a range of products and services that will attract both local and international markets.”

The project site with Linden’s popular Blue Lake in picture

Additionally, Benjamin-Fauconier had said that in its mature state the company’s pursuits will provide “fertilisers for local and export markets, using strictly renewable energy, plus air and water as raw materials; fuel cell systems including the electronic control modules for those systems, designed and manufactured in Guyana for both export and local markets; a mass transit (bus transportation service) that will run only on hydrogen fuel cells replenished by solar and wind energy as well as cooking gas (hydrogen) for the residential market from purely renewable sources.” GIACC, she had added, “will assign its excess energy to the local grid through a smart electronic control system,” further asserting that “the products and services that will be offered by a mature GIACC will have “a natural synergy due to their interrelationships in the production, storage and supply of clean energy.”

The letter published in the Kaieteur News had alluded to “rumours running wild that a huge Linden prime real estate has been leased to a foreigner to package fertilizer,” an assertion which Benjamin-Fauconier, in her telephone conversation with this newspaper said that when added to the “ludicrous assertion” that she had never visited the project site was “dripping with propaganda.” Benjamin-Fauconier also told the Stabroek Business during last Wednesday’s telephone conversation that she had taken umbrage at being dismissed by the letter writer as simply “a woman from North America.” That,” she told this newspaper, “says a lot about the motives of the letter.”  

In her statement Benjamin-Fauconier said that she believed that the letter published in the Kaieteur News was “clearly bent on mischief” and that she had opted to use her own response “to further enlighten readers on what is on offer for Linden and for Guyana…….. I am a Guyanese as well as a Lindener by birth. Accordingly, I lay claim to an inalienable right to seek to make what is a potentially game-changing contribution to the development of my community and my country. I have no intention of surrendering that right, the mischief of the letter-writer notwithstanding,” Benjamin-Fauconier says in her statement.

In her interview with the Stabroek Business Benjamin-Fauconier had also touched on what she says are her concerns regarding the importance on uplifting the environmental profile of the Blue Lake area – which falls within the lease allocation. She had said that she recognized the recreational potential of the location and had undertaken to take full account of that consideration in the rolling out of the GIACC’s project.

In her statement Benjamin-Fauconier alludes to what she says is “a dangerous and counterproductive dichotomy between the soundings of government regarding the desirability of Guyanese in the diaspora ‘giving back’ to their country, on the one hand, and on the other hand, the noises of those who seek to attribute ulterior motive to initiatives that are underpinned by the best of intentions. That kind of dissonance will get our country nowhere. It has to end,” she says.  

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