‒ Jagdeo calls for him to back up his claims
Without providing evidence to refute the disclosures made by Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo, about massive tracts of land, in strategic locations, that were given away to cronies of the APNU+AFC Coalition Government as false, the Head of the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission (GL&SC) claimed that Jagdeo himself has “thousands” of acres of land.
On Thursday (July 4, 2019), the Opposition Leader dismissed this claim. “I do not have thousands of acres of lease land,” he said. He underscored the “ridiculous” nature of Benn’s claims and called on his to substantiate what he said. According to him, Benn, as Head of the GL&SC, has access to all the records to deal with lease lands and could have easily provided documentation to the media when he made his claim.
“Let him release the maps to show where I own these thousands of acres…everything I own is declared to the Integrity Commission, from 2000….if the (Coalition) government finds one thing that I own that is not declared, they can charge me and I will go to jail for a year….let them bring the facts,”
agdeo said. The Opposition Leader stressed that the onus is on Benn to back up the allegations he made. He also responded to Benn’s other allegations that members of the former People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C) government also secured leases for massive plots of lands. “We never have out the prime locations…our track record with land is clear,” he said.
Jagdeo added that the former PPP/C government developed some 105,000 house lots from scratch for the benefit of thousands of Guyanese – regardless of their race or political affiliation. “The three lots that (Minister Annette) Ferguson got is land developed by the PPP. Ask her when she got it and how much she paid for it,” he said, adding that any issuance of lease lands under the former PPP/C government followed strict processes, including public tendering.
The Opposition Leader added that the key thing that underpinned his disclosures about the giveaway land is the fact that the lands were given to persons connected directly to President David Granger’s office, several of transactions taking place after the passage of the no-confidence motion on December 21, 2018. “You are about to lose power and you give away land, prime land, to people connected to your government. This is what the issue is about,” he said.
Jagdeo stressed that the issued raised by Benn are “red herrings” to take attention away from the key issue. The information released by the Opposition Leader, backed up by maps leaked to the Parliamentary Opposition by whistleblowers, show that over 13,000 acres of land was given away in a matter of months.