More court ac­tion com­ing against er­rant land de­vel­op­ers

-CH&PA CEO

Stabroek News Sunday - - FRONT PAGE -

Sev­eral pri­vate de­vel­op­ers who have failed to ex­e­cute in­fras­truc­tural works on lands al­lo­cated by the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment on the East Bank cor­ri­dor are on the radar of the Central Hous­ing and Plan­ning Au­thor­ity (CH&PA), which plans to take them to court.

Since the APNU+AFC ad­min­is­tra­tion took of­fice in May, 2015, the 18 de­vel­op­ers who bought al­most 600 acres of prime hous­ing lands, stretch­ing from Prov­i­dence to Golden Grove, have been re­peat­edly warned to get their acts to­gether and to hon­our the agree­ments that they had signed with the CH&PA. The re­cent court ac­tion to re­claim land sold to one of those de­vel­op­ers, busi­ness­man Brian Ti­warie, is a clear sign that the Au­thor­ity is se­ri­ous.

“Def­i­nitely we will be tak­ing ac­tion against other pri­vate de­vel­op­ers,” CH&PA’s Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer (CEO) Lelon Saul told Sun­day Stabroek in an in­ter­view, while urg­ing the Guyana Rev­enue Au­thor­ity (GRA) to en­sure full tax col­lec­tion from those who have opted to sell the lands al­lo­cated to make a size­able profit.

Ac­cord­ing to a list seen by this news­pa­per, be­sides the 100 acres sold to Ti­warie’s BK In­ter­na­tional Inc–Sun­set Lakes Inc., 50 acres were sold to Buddy’s Hous­ing Devel­op­ment; 14 to Dax Con­tract­ing Ser­vice In­cor­po­rated; 25 to Nabi Con­struc­tion In­cor­po­rated; 50 to Cum­ber­land De­vel­op­ers Inc., 25 to Vikab Engi­neer­ing Con­sul­tants Ltd; and 28.8 to Lux­ury Realty Inc. All of th­ese lands are lo­cated at Prov­i­dence and were bought in 2011 with the ex­cep­tion of Lux­ury Realty Inc., which pur­chased its lands in 2013.

Ac­cord­ing to what was seen by this news­pa­per, 25 acres in the Peter’s Hall area were sold to Kis­han Bac­chus Con­struc­tion; 50 acres in 2011 and an ad­di­tional 25 acres in 2014 of land in the same area were sold to Cari­com Gen­eral In­sur­ance Com­pany Inc. Nav­i­gant Builders Inc and Wins­dor Gar­dens Inc. were also sold parcels of land in the Peter’s Hall area. In 2012 and 2014, 25 and 15 acres, re­spec­tively, were ac­quired by Nav­i­gant Builders Inc., while Wind­sor For­est Inc. ac­quired 40 acres.

Queensway was sold 35 acres of land at Block 22 A, Block Y Golden Grove. This news­pa­per was un­able to as­cer­tain in which year the pur­chase was made.

A to­tal of six de­vel­op­ers pur­chased land in the Lit­tle Di­a­mond/Great Di­a­mond area. Queensville Hous­ing ac­quired 12.5 acres; A&R Ji­wan­ram Prin­tery Inc, 7.64 acres; RayDan Hous­ing En­ter­prise, 16.9 acres; Hi Tech Con­struc­tion Inc., 20 acres; and Romel Ja­groop Gen­eral Con­struc­tion Ser­vices, 12.5 acres. All of th­ese pur­chases were made dur­ing the year 2014.

Last on the list was Mo­hamed’s En­ter­prise, which pur­chased 14.94 acres of land in the same area in early 2015.

Th­ese lands were sup­posed to be de­vel­oped for the con­struc­tion and sale of homes.

While Saul did not iden­tify spe­cific de­vel­op­ers who were er­rant, he made it clear that the CH&PA will be mov­ing to re­pos­sess lands that have not been oc­cu­pied or de­vel­oped in any way.

‘Tied up’

Saul said that the CH&PA on nu­mer­ous oc­ca­sions has sig­naled its in­ten­tion to com­mence lit­i­ga­tion against some of the other 17 pri­vate de­vel­op­ers. While ac­knowl­edg­ing the is­sues plagu­ing the court sys­tem, he said that it is hoped that when th­ese mat­ters en­ter the ju­di­cial sys­tem, they would be speed­ily ad­dressed.

He said that a con­sid­er­able amount of acreage has been “tied up” by th­ese de­vel­op­ers as most have not “lived up to the terms and con­di­tion of sale in the agree­ment.” Saul said that all of the de­vel­op­ers should have com­menced build­ing on the lands sold to them within the spec­i­fied two-year pe­riod.

“They have not done that …there are about two cases where the direc­tors of com­pa­nies have changed and ba­si­cally the agree­ment is be­tween CH&PA and the com­pany …in two cases, those com­pa­nies were sold.” he said.

Saul did not iden­tify the com­pa­nies by name but it is be­lieve that he was re­fer­ring to Sun­set Lakes and Lux­ury Realty Inc.

He opined that what had hap­pened in those two cases is noth­ing short of “an act of dis­hon­esty be­cause in [those] agree­ments we would have ex­pected the direc­tors or the per­sons who have shares in the com­pany to re­main the same. That was not done and so what people did they sold their shares for a con­sid­er­able amount of money and I trust that GRA goes after them to en­sure that they pay their cap­i­tal gain taxes …the ap­pro­pri­ate tax from the profit that was de­rived from the sale of th­ese prop­er­ties.”

Ac­cord­ing to the avail­able in­for­ma­tion, Ti­warie had signed an agree­ment via his Sun­set Lakes Inc Com­pany with the CH&PA to pur­chase and de­velop the 100 acres of land at a cost pegged at $475 mil­lion. He paid a quar­ter of the sum and had six months to pay off the bal­ance.

In 2014, Ti­warie went into part­ner­ship with Chu Hongbo of Bais­han­lin and it was agreed that Chu would pay him US$8 mil­lion and de­velop the site. As part of the agree­ment, Ti­warie would also get to keep some of the house lots in the gated com­mu­nity for his per­sonal use.

How­ever, Ti­warie took Chu to court in 2016 for the bal­ance of US$4 mil­lion on the agreed pur­chase price. It is un­clear if this mat­ter has been set­tled.

A lo­cal bank which gave a loan to the new own­ers of the land is also seek­ing to re­coup its money.

‘Not uni­form’

Saul stated that it would ap­pear that though the av­er­age time pe­riod given to de­velop the lands was two years, there were dif­fer­ent ar­range­ments in place in some in­stances.

“Seem­ingly, the terms and con­di­tion of sale was not uni­form. Some de­vel­op­ers were given more than two years, while some of them were given in­def­i­nite time,” he said.

Ac­cord­ing to the CEO, some of the de­vel­op­ers have de­liv­ered, so it is “not all of the de­vel­op­ers” who have failed to hon­our their agree­ment and com­mence build­ing on the lands al­lo­cated within the spec­i­fied time pe­riod. He told Sun­day Stabroek that the ones the CH&PA will be go­ing after, “there is more or less noth­ing on the land.”

Asked to ex­plain why the CH&PA was le­nient and de­layed tak­ing ac­tion against the er­rant de­vel­op­ers, he said that it wanted to give them an op­por­tu­nity to put them­selves in or­der.

He added that the CH&PA recog­nises that some of the de­vel­op­ers faced chal­lenges and “it was our in­ten­tion to give them time to ad­dress those is­sues.”

Lelon Saul

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