APNU+AFC Campaign Manager Larry London, who is also the director of a now inactive Florida-registered company, was paid over $23M by the previous administration to print birth certificates. The ‘Coalition’ had refused to demit office after losing the March 2020 Regional and General Elections, and only did so in the face of mounting international pressure.
The name of the Florida profit corporation that London heads is Universal Procurement Services Inc. This was revealed by Governance and Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Gail Teixeira when the House resolved into Committee of Supply, and was considering the estimates of expenditure for January 2020 to September 2020 under Citizenship and Immigration Services.
The former government, instead of using local services to print thousands of Guyanese birth certificates, decided to outsource US$150,000 to the Florida-based company to print some 20,000 birth certificates between 2019 and 2020.
Minister Teixeira said it is the first time she is hearing of such a transaction, since, as a former Home Affairs Minister, “I know birth certificates used to be published in Guyana with local printers with safety and security watermarks.”
Teixeira, in confirming that the contract was signed by London, said she was unsure if the due diligence done before the company was hired.
Meanwhile, London, a PNCR Executive, was also paid a huge salary and other benefits in the position of Director of Public Parks under the Department of Environment when he hardly even lived in the country.
Upon assuming office, the Irfaan Ali administration tasked a four-man committee to do an assessment of State agencies.
Attorney-General Anil Nandlall bemoaned the perks granted to London in his ‘Parks’ contract.
“You have some jobs I never heard about… You have a man getting $500,000-take home, all light bills, phone bills paid, Internet bill paid, a guard and a driver, and car and duty-free concession in ‘A’ Grade, and he gets a 22.5 per cent gratuity every six months with a position as Director of Parks. What is that! What is that! And you have hundreds of those creations all over,” Nandlall charged.
During the televised “Government in Focus” programme aired on the National Communications Network (NCN) and hosted by Leeron Brummell, the Attorney-General said he has never heard of such a position.
London, whose contract expires on January 31, 2021, received a salary of $489,000 monthly, and 22.5 per cent of his six-month salary twice yearly. Approximate benefits and average spending per month includes, but were not limited to, allowances of $25,000 for entertainment, unlimited overseas and local calls, security services which can run to around $150,000 per month, Internet at 15,000, duty-free concessions (Scale ‘A’) and a vacation allowance of $489,000.
Maintaining his position would have cost taxpayers almost $2M per month.
London, in 2016, was a part of the controversial construction of the “Green Zone Recreational Park”, now referred to as D’Urban Park.
London’s company, Homestretch Development Inc. (HDI), was tasked with finishing the construction in time for Guyana’s 50th anniversary celebrations in 2016.
From all indications, HDI, through donations both from local persons and those in the diaspora, commenced work at the site in September 2015, about two months before government officially announced what was happening there.
Over $1 billion had been spent on the project, a large parade ground with wooden stands, and despite this, the National Assembly had been asked to approve millions in extra-budgetary spending to meet additional costs.
The latest Auditor General report providing a summary of findings of the investigation had said that up to December 31, 2017, amounts totalling almost $1.150 billion were spent on the project.
The report reiterated that payment vouchers to support expenditure totalling $107.119 million were not produced for audit examination, while there is no evidence of checks on works for which HDI was given half-a-billion dollars.
In 2018, London was appointed as chairman of the Board of Directors of the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA).
Since taking office, the PPP/C has bemoaned that political appointees are putting up a resistance to giving up their positions and the perks afforded them.