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…says gov’t settles disputes with CEVONS, CARE CARE, Courtney Benn
While the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government said it will no longer pursue legal actions against Cevons, Car Care and Courtney Benn, Vice President, Bharrat Jadgeo has made it clear that others will not be so lucky.
“There will be some people that we will have to go after especially public officers, some of the public officers. We will go hard against some people…” the Vice President warned during a press conference at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC) on Friday.
It was during that press conference that Jagdeo disclosed that the Government has agreed to settle out of court disputes with the principals of Cevons, Car Care and Courtney Benn.
In February, the Government had signal its intention to retrieve a plot of land at Area C, Tract B Le Repentir, Georgetown, for which, Cevons Waste Management Inc. had paid $100M to secure on the basis that the transaction was illegal. Government, through the Attorney General, Anil Nandlall, had indicated that the property belonged to the National Sports Commission (NSC) and ought not to have been sold. The Government had also moved to retrieve lands sold to Care Care under the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) Government. In the case of Courtney Benn, the Attorney General had sued the construction company for more than $400M over the company’s alleged failure to reconstruct the St. Roses High School in keeping with the specified timeframe.
During the press conference on Friday, the Vice President said though the “illegal” sale of state lands was of major concern, the Government has agreed to resolve at least three of the matters out of court.
“We don’t want to penalize, unsuspecting businessmen, we want to go after the people who acted illegally…” Jagdeo said.
He said, however, the public officers who facilitated the transactions would be dealt with. He noted that the PPP/C Government will be taking a “tough position” on persons who were engaged with the APNU+AFC Administration.
“The public officers are the ones who sold the land, so we took a conscious decision that we will not go to the court because that would have resulted in a setting aside for the transport for the land that Cevons has. It was clear because the guy had no authority to sell the land and it was land belonging to another entity. But the guy had a lot of plans and some development, and we want to see people succeed, that is why we didn’t pursue the same hardline,” Jagdeo explained.
The APNU+AFC has maintained that the PPP/C has engaged in witch hunting. It has said that since the PPP/C took office in August 2020, more than 1000 public servants have been fired while legal proceedings have been initiated against persons aligned with or perceived to be aligned with the coalition.
The Guyana Trade Unions Congress (GTUC) has also accused the PPP/C of engaging in witch hunting. “Without fail this nation could expect to hear more African workers terminated, not reassigned, from the public service on flimsy pretexts, some of which are being justified by linguistic demonisation that they are “obstructionists” without an iota of evidence. The pattern of behaviour is unacceptable and evidently a systematic effort to marginalise a section of the Guyanese from working in the public sector which this regime is unmistakably converting to a political party sector,” the umbrealla trade union had said in a statement last year.
The union had contended that the APNU+AFC, while in Office, did not carry out this witch hunting and recrimination that have become characteristics of the PPP/C administrations.
According to the GTUC workers being targeted did nothing wrong other than be born black, were employed during the previous administration, have not publicly declared support for the PPP/C, and perceived to have expressed their freedom of choice for a party/group merely based on how they look.
“The vengeful targeting of African workers has reached the stage where it could be considered a public health issue given the consequences borne from emotional and economic disruption. Within the last few days 40 Community Health Workers employed in Region Four, a stronghold of the Opposition, were placed on the breadline when this nation is suffering through a pandemic (COVID-19) which the government is mishandling. Another 40 plus from the Office of the President, who worked with the National Policy Development Presidential Advisory Services, were terminated. Who is next?,” the union questioned.