PNCR blasts ‘secretive’ Sanata deal-urges speedy tabling in Parliament
Stabroek News news item. Saturday 21 June 2008
The PNCR says the Queens Atlantic Investment Inc (QAII) concession agreements with the Government must be speedily laid in the National Assembly since confusion and uncertainty continue to surround the deal which the party described as secretive.
The party said too that the cost of “such unacceptable behaviour” will, in the long run, result in the discouragement of the legitimate and serious investment needed for the development of the Guyana economy.
In a press statement read at the party’s press conference held at Congress Place yesterday, the PNCR said: “As it is, the agreements with Queens Atlantic have already been tainted by apparent bias and conflicts of interest.”
The statement said that it is now in the public domain that the concessions which were promised or granted to the entity were not in accord with the existing tax laws in Guyana. “Scandalously, this has come after no less a person than the President himself publicly declared that they were,” the PNCR said.
The party said that it recognises that this is yet another example which points “to the incompetence and maladministration, tainted by the all too many instances of corruption,” of the Jagdeo Administration. It said that if the agreement with QAII was reached in a transparent manner, “the [embarrassing], unbecoming behaviour of the President and suspicion of the motives of the Administration, would not have been inflicted on our public life.”
The PNCR said that it is disturbed by the perception that even after the controversy surrounding the building and sale of Buddy’s International Hotel, the mysterious “and murky nature of the touted investment in the Marriott Hotel, the Jagdeo Administration continues to get involved in businesses practices which are tainted, by circumstances which give rise to the appearance of being shady and lacking in transparency.”
The PNCR follows on the heels of the Alliance For Change (AFC) which gave the Government a tongue-lashing for the announced plans to amend legislation to accommodate the promised concessions, which it called on the Government to rescind.
Meanwhile the Guyana Action Party/Rise, Organise and Rebuild Guyana (GAP/ROAR), through Member of Parliament Everall Franklin, said that it is giving the Government the benefit of the doubt and assuming that the laws are being changed not just for QAII alone, but for anyone investing in the pioneering industries.
Franklin said: “We all welcome investment, but it has to fall within the laws that we all have to adhere to. If we have to make special arrangements for the investors then those must be made available to all investors making similar investments.”
He said that there should be no ambiguity as to the fairness with which each investor is treated. He feels part of the issue is that the Government does not have a clear investment policy and said that there should be no need for a Cabinet Paper every time some investor needs to make investments.
In a statement on Sunday, Government justified the two ventures as pioneering by saying that it considers that the two Sanata projects earmarked for tax holidays deserve to be granted tax holidays as these activities are currently not performed in Guyana and represent new pioneer projects of a developmental and risk-taking nature with employment and investment benefits to Guyana.
The statement had said that these projects will see the establishment of significant value-added manufacturing operations in Guyana, specifically in the areas of denim textile production and antibiotic manufacturing, and include a joint venture with international partners.
In the statement, the Ministry of Finance said: “On closer examination, the current Fiscal Enactments (Amendment) Act 2003 does not reflect Government’s intent when the said Bill was laid in Parliament. In this respect, Government will be moving to amend the law to clearly provide for all pioneering projects, infrastructure projects, and correct the list of regions eligible for tax holidays.”