The Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) is calling on the managers of “our national patrimony” to execute their mandate in a more transparent way to ensure equitable distribution of state resources.

The call stems from a series of events over the last couple of weeks, where land allocation issues were brought to the fore.

Recently, a company, called Unicon, made an announcement that it was given 700 acres of land at the shuttered Wales Estate, on the West Bank of Demerara for coconut cultivation and processing. Following that revelation, a former private-sector executive was accused of being the recipient of a large plot of land in Georgetown. This, however, turned out to be untrue as there might have been a typo on the Official Gazette or possible confusion with the use of real estate jargon.

Nevertheless, the GCCI believes that these issues all point to the need for a national discussion on the land allocation processes, given that this matter is a recurrent one that is not exclusive to a particular regime.

GCCI President Nicholas Deygoo-Boyer is advocating that there be more transparency in the process. Deygoo-Boyer said that after the announcement was made by Unicon, he received a call from a chamber member, crying foul.

“I would have received a call from one of our large agro-processor…They had applied to do coconut farming – this is a Guyanese-owned agro-processing company – at the Wales Estate and was not granted. It then begs the question: what are the processes being followed for allocation of lands in the former sugar estates?”

He continued his inquiries: “How much of these lands have been leased? Who have they been leased to? What is the value of the lease? Is it monthly payment or annual payment?”

These questions, the businessman said, must be answered as they are needed to ensure that the nation can “hold our leaders accountable”.

Deygoo-Boyer asked media practitioners if they have the answers to these questions, there was no response. The GCCI Head then concluded that “clearly” there is a transparency issue regarding the issuing of leases.

He said that no matter which side of the political divide Guyanese fall on, these properties belong to the state. “So, what we want is transparency on how they are being utilised,”

Former GCCI Head, Deodat Indar, spared no bones in his comment on the matter. He too underscored the need for transparency, noting that lack of transparency can undermine citizenry confidence in the administration and state machinery.

“Giving away of land in this country, regardless of which government, if it’s not done properly is wrong. And we need to call a spade, a spade. They are not giving it in an equitable manner; it’s going out in large chunks to people who we’ve never seen in Guyana; people who never paid tax in Guyana; people who just show up just off the plane, and are getting massive tracts of land. We are saying that transparency in this process is vital for confidence in government and the agencies and departments,” he said.



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