Friday, May 30, 2008

Sanata Complex deal… Govt. should lay facts before parliament

Sanata Complex deal… Govt. should lay facts before parliament
- Winston Murray
Kaieteur News news item. Friday 30 May 2008

Deputy Leader of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) and Shadow Finance Minister, Winston Murray is calling on Government to explain the Sanata deal before the National Assembly.
Speaking yesterday at the Grand Coastal Inn, Le Ressouvenir, East Coast Demerara, Murray who is Chairman of the PNCR, also said that everything is suggesting that President Bharrat Jagdeo may have been the “source” that pointed the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) and the Privatisation Unit to the direction of the owners of the New Guyana Pharmaceutical Corporation as being interested in the Sanata complex.
PIC: Deputy Leader of the
PNCR, Winston Murray

Murray noted that the President, during a press conference, had “given the impression” that he was at “arms length” when the deal was being worked out.
Given that both the President and owner of New GPC are “personal friends”, there is a need to for some kind of transparency and accountability, Murray said.
It is the first rumblings that opposition parties may not be too pleased with the Sanata deal which was announced late April in which Queens Atlantic Investments Inc.(QAII), owner of the New GPC, struck a deal with Government to rent the extensive property and open at least five businesses.
It is also the first time that anyone had publicly intimated that President Jagdeo may have been involved.
President Jagdeo said that when the matter came up for a Cabinet decision, he left the room since he and the owner of QAII were friends.
Agreeing that it was a “done deal”, the PNCR Parliamentary front-bencher said that unfortunately, it was a deal of which “we know so little” and done by a government which has been so “condemnatory of what the PNC did with privatization” while that party was in office.
One of the things that Government should have done is to lay the deal before Parliament so that the “facts” can become known, the official said.
“There should be no insinuations” that on the basis of friendship a deal was done, he argued.
“It is not too late…I would invite the government to bring this agreement to the National Assembly,” Murray urged.
The PNCR Deputy Leader also sought to clear the air on his previous statement about “dirty money” which was misinterpreted by some.
According to Murray, during an interview with another newspaper, he had raised a point that Guyana needs to be careful with investments and the source of the money being invested. This should never be misconstrued as accusing the new management of Sanata that their investments were questionable, he said.
Rather, it was made in the context that Guyana should not be a medium for money laundering since dirty money brings dirty company.
The official disclosed that a top official at QAII had explained that the money for the Sanata deal came from local and foreign banks. Murray said that he has taken the investor at his word, having met with the investor at the invitation of the latter and shown documents to support the privatization deal.
On Wednesday, Head of the Guyana Office for Investment (GO-Invest), Geoff Da Silva indicated that only two of the five projects listed for the Sanata complex deal have been granted tax holidays.
Additionally, the printing of a newspaper was not part of the deal and any requests for waivers of inputs, equipment and machinery and vehicles will have to be dealt with by Government.
Late last month, Government announced that it had privatized the almost 300,000 square foot property of Sanata Textiles at Ruimveldt to the owners of Queens Atlantic Investments Inc., for a $50 million annual rental.
However, the deal has not gone down well with letter writers and columnists who are questioning whether too many concessions were given and if enough was done to ensure that there was transparency, among other things.
Upon completion, the complex will house a modern textile mill for gauze, bandages and denim production; a state-of-the-art printery; an antibiotics plant and a research and development facility; a pharmaceutical export processing facility; and a hardware manufacturing division.
The Privatisation Unit and GO-Invest had hosted a press conference on the issues raised but the questions continue.

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