Update on Remigrant Scheme investigations

CONFIDENTIAL MEMO

To: Board Members, Central Housing & Planning Authority

From: Mark Jacobs, Chair Land Allocation Committee

Date: 24th October, 2016

Subject : Update on Remigrant Scheme investigations

 

Dear Members:

At our last Land Allocation Committee meeting of 18th October, 2016 the issue of the block on the Remigrant Scheme was raised.

This memo is a partial update on the findings so far and recommendations on the way forward with this scheme. It will be the first scheme the Land Allocation Committee has a clear understanding of in terms of allocations, availability and infrastructure costs.

In a memo dated 18th April, 2016 90% allottees in “Remigrant Scheme” not registered remigrants (attached) I explained that only 12 of 130 allottees listed in the CH&PA remigrant scheme are actual remigrants at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

(For reasons that have never been properly explained, the first persons listed as a remigrant were actually allocated a lot on the West Coast – Intaz & Inderdaie Hussain, Lot 753 De Groot En Klyne priced at $1,200,000)

On numerous occasions, in words and writing, Head of MIS Andre Ally who ran the remigrant program admitted that no policy documents exists as it regards the remigrant scheme and that all directives came from former Minister Irfaan Ali.

Director of Operations Denise Tudor has no such documents and the former CEO Myrna Pitt also said no such documents exists.

However, in the most detailed document on the remigrant scheme presented thus far, Providence Gardens Report, page 3 has a curious entry titled The Policy Context.

In a following report I will detail further the grave inconsistencies and deceptions contained in this report.

The Policy Context sheds light on what’s to come in that report:

The policy was to make lots in the scheme available to remigrants and overseas-based Guyanese wishing to return, or those who have already returned to Guyana to live. Lots were also made available to persons desirous of having a vacation home in Guyana.

More specifically, the scheme caters for overseas-based Guyanese that are residents or nonresidents in the diaspora, this includes persons who may be living abroad, but do not hold any legal status in their country of stay. This particular group would not be able to benefit from a regular house lot allocation, since the land allocation policy states that a person residing out of Guyana for more than 183 days will be considered a non-resident of Guyana and therefore not eligible for a ‘regular’ house lot.

Note: The meaning herein ascribed to the word ‘remigrant’, based on public pronouncements by former Minister, Irfaan Ali, is interpreted as:

  1. The remigrant Guyanese who is resuming residence in Guyana as the country of domicile (this was, however, never formalized with any agreed-on procedure between CHPA and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs); and
  2. The overseas-based Guyanese who display a pattern of frequent visits requiring short or long-term residence in the country and who have a desire to ultimately return permanently.

An officer of CH&PA cannot arbitrarily use a legal term and ascribe to it his/her own interpretation. For our purposes, we are using the Ministry of Foreign Affairs definition of remigrant.

It should be mentioned that this information also showed up on page 11 of the Providence Gardens Report.

Ten parcels were amalgamated into parcels (2308, 2309,2310,2311,2312, 2329, 2330, 2331, 2332, 2333) i.e. parcel 2723 for the construction of Town Houses. The land was sold at $40,000,000 dollars, to date the purchaser has paid $12,000,000 dollars towards the acquisition of the land.

At no point in the past 11 months has it ever been mentioned or recorded that lots were sold in the remigrant scheme for Town Houses. Director of Operations Denise Tudor said this was an oversight on her part at a Land Allocation Committee meeting. No contract exists between the individual purchasing those lots and CH&PA.

Our Committee has advised management to initiate steps to repossess these lots for the agency.

Based on the records at Foreign Affairs these 12 persons/couples are the only remigrants allotted lands in the Remigrant Scheme:

 

  • Zahid Ahmad Ali & Korsasha Ali
  • Ramjattan Singh & Vidya Singh
  • Jack Bharrat
  • Shaleeza Boodhoo
  • Jai SIngh
  • Rickforde & Jacqueline Vieira
  • Troy Anthony Banwarie
  • Cleon & Natasha Fletcher
  • Fazil Hussain
  • Charlene Phoenix
  • Yeshwar Dyal & Dhanmattie Bhagwandat
  • Sahadeo & Anitha Persaud 

 

An additional 12 persons did not submit an Affidavit of non-ownership based on the most recent document presented on this scheme. This is quite troubling as it indicates even the basic requirements were being breached/ignored by Head of MIS Andre Ally.

The 12 persons not submitting affidavits of non-ownership are:

 

  • Omesh Persaud – Parcel 1925
  • Esan Peters & Michelle Sancho – Parcel 1945
  • Evelyn Wayne – Parcel 1989
  • Kenrick COrt – Parcel 1990
  • Haitram Ramlall & Ramwattee Ramlall – Parcel 1991
  • Riaz Khan – Parcel 2006
  • Badee Zaman Ali & Taymawattie Ali – Parcel 2066
  • Farah Juman Yassin – Parcel 2077
  • Pritipaul Singh – Parcel 2091
  • Teeka Dai Ramautar – Parcel 2104
  • Frank & Pauline Winter – Parcel 2106
  • Omadat Pusammy – Parcel 2168.

 

 

We are in the process of making CH&PA land application procedures more stringent to avoid the disasters of the past. We are also clarifying the status of all lots to make them available for reallocation through repossession, or have them reserved for future development in an orderly and sustainable fashion.

Recommendation

Titles be issued only to the persons listed as remigrants and no monies be collected from others on the list.

We are awaiting a report from the registry to confirm that the additional persons allotted are not owners of property in Guyana.

Chief Allocation Officer Ingrid Jones complained at our meeting of 18th October, 2016 that persons were calling “steady” to complain that we were holding up their plans by having this program on hold. However, no information was presented as to the number of persons making these complaints, who they were and the specifics of these complaints.

Whether these “steady” calls are real or fictitious, as is customary in the past at CH&PA no documentation was presented to support the claims. Questioning revealed that no records are kept on persons contacting the agency.

Ms. Jones was advised to notify all personnel that records on all persons calling CH&PA must be kept as the Board can only make decisions and policies guided by facts and data.

Head of Conveyance Esther Stephen also mentioned that she was advised by the chairman to release three tittles to persons who would’ve contacted him directly. As of this writing, I do not have those names but will include them in the following report.

All for your information and guidance.

Humble regards,

Mark Jacobs

Chair, Land Allocation Committee

 

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