Wicked and deeply troubling

Prime Minister: Prime Minister, Moses Nagamootoo (Adrian Narine photo)

– prime minister denounces Jagdeo’s land-grabbing claims

PRIME Minister, Moses Nagamootoo, has said the political opposition has a “dirty” history regarding allocation of State lands and assets, asserting that the recent land-grabbing claims by its leader are racially-inspired, troubling and wicked.

A former top executive of the PPP, Prime Nagamootoo said the APNU+AFC Coalition Government has honoured the laws of Guyana regarding making lands available to the populace.

While the prime minister noted that that there is land for every Guyanese, he lambasted Jagdeo’s claims of corruption in the policies of the current administration’s allocation of lands.

Prime Minister Nagamootoo noted on Wednesday, during a ‘one-on-one’ interview, that those who are now criticising the land policy of the current government should examine their own tenure in office.

He said that the former government of the Peoples Progressive Party (PPP) has a “dirty” track record in its dealings with State lands and assets “and now wants to cast aspersions” on the David Granger Government.
Going back in time, he pointed to the contentious Pradoville Housing Schemes on the East Coast of Demerara and the process which surrounded the construction of Pradoville Two, where Jagdeo now resides.

“We know about the sleaze associated with Pradoville One and Pradoville Two,” Prime Minister Nagamootoo said as he recalled the removal of the mast of the former Guyana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) to make way for “prime state land” to be handed out to members of the PPP and its affiliates at Pradoville Two.

The allocation process at the two schemes has been ventilated in the media over the years and came up for discussion at the Land Commission of Inquiry in 2017. During those hearings, the commission was told that there is no evidence within the records of the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) of house lot allocation process for homes at Pradoville One and Pradoville Two.

The two communities are located in the villages of Goedverwagting and Sparendaam.

During those hearings, CH&PA Director of Operations, Denise Tudor, told the CoI that she was not aware if former President Jagdeo was given two plots of land at the schemes, but based on information in the records that she saw, he was allocated land in the Goedverwagting area known as Pradoville One.

Tudor said at the time, in terms of the allocation, this did not follow the regular process or procedures. Since the allocations at the two schemes were not done in the prescribed manner, she said the relevant documentation was not within her department.

On Wednesday, the prime minister stated that the former government utilised the State as a real estate agency in the allocation of lands at the two housing areas.

“Some of them used the government as a real estate agency,” he said of the actions of the former administration in which he noted that houses were built and the owners resold them.

He described the PPP’s actions at the time as unconscionable as he knocked down Jagdeo’s recent land-grabbing claims. He said that in taking a “racist” approach to the issue, the opposition leader and the PPP plucked out the names of Afro-Guyanese persons while levelling the land-grabbing accusations against the government. The prime minister also reminded that the applications for the lands by those persons were made when the PPP was in the seat of government.

“I believe that the PPP, the Jagdeo PPP should hang its head in shame,” Prime Minister Nagamootoo said.
He said the utterances of the opposition on the issue affected him personally as he noted that there is enough land for all Guyanese. He pointed out that land has been demarcated for the country’s Indigenous Peoples and such allocations are protected by law, the latter which has been obeyed by the administration.

The prime minister said too that other sections of the population, including the Afro and Indo-Guyanese populations have benefitted from land allocation from the rulers of the day since time immemorial, as he tied this process to what entailed post-Emancipation.
The prime minister said the PPP cannot be selective in its attacks, as he noted that he has not sought to own a parcel of State lands but rather private land to build his home, long before he became a minister of government.

Since making the land-grabbing claims at a press conference at his office recently, Jagdeo has been heavily criticised by various persons, including renowned engineer, Charles Ceres, who took the opposition leader to task on the issue.

Ceres was expected to take the opposition leader to court on the issue. At the same time, the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission (GL&SC) launched an investigation into the circumstances in which maps, which Jagdeo displayed at the press conference, ended up in his hands.