Former Attorney General and Member of Parliament (MP) Anil Nandlall is urging the Government to take immediate steps to terminate the controversial drug bond contract with Linden Holdings Inc.
Nandlall said that unless both parties involved pledge their consent for modifications to be made, a review of the controversial contract, as was recommended by a Cabinet Sub-Committee, would be a pointless exercise. He explained that the matter is a done deal and therefore a review of the contract would be futile since there can be no alterations or modifications to the existing legally binding agreement without the consent of both the tenant (Government) and the landlord – Linden Holdings Inc, whose majority shareholder is listed as Larry Singh.
Moving forward, he said nothing short of a revocation would suffice.
Public Health Minister, Dr George Norton, when questioned by media operatives during a news briefing on Friday about the issue, was adamant that there is no need for the contract to be retendered.
Critics say the announcement that a review of the contract was recommended was all but a window-dressing exercise, as was the apology.
In fact, Nandlall alluded to the absurdity in establishing a Cabinet Sub-Committee to review a decision Cabinet itself had taken.
“When the astonishing information regarding this rental contract was made public and the pressure began to build, Cabinet made another egregious blunder. It appointed a sub-committee of Cabinet to investigate a decision of Cabinet. It is as if Cabinet fell into a state of comatose,” he stated.
Nandlall, in a statement to the media, also pointed out that the contract was in complete violation of the Procurement Act.
“This contract was simply handed to the landlord in complete disregard and in violation of the Procurement Act,” he noted as he continued to expose corruption within the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Administration.
He pointed out that the nation was told that Cabinet examined, discussed and deliberated on the contract, but found nothing wrong with its contents and thus gave its approval.
However, the contract points to a number of red flags including that fact that the building owned by Linden Holdings Inc was to be used as a professional office as opposed to a warehouse for storing drugs.
The contract reveals that Government might have undervalued, whether deliberately or unintentionally, the expenses it will incur in renting the bond. In addition to the G$12.5 million monthly rent which will be paid to Linden Holdings Inc for usage of the building, the contract outlines that Government will pay the required Value Added Tax (VAT) to the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA). Inclusive of VAT the rent would total G$14.5 million instead of the G$12.5 million that Govt was touting.
The contract stipulates also that Government would be responsible for paying utility bills to the Guyana Power and Light (GPL) and Guyana Water Inc (GWI).
While it was reported that Government made an upfront payment of G$25 million to the company, it was demanded in the contract an advance of G$37.5 million – representing two months’ rent in advance and one month’s rent as a security deposit.
The Government also agreed to stand the expenses to maintain the building, including cleaning, regular and emergency repairs, the servicing of the air conditioning units, etc.
The contract stipulates that if the Government fails to execute the functions within a stipulated timeframe, the landlord will take up the responsibility and all costs incurred will be recoverable from the Government as if it were rent in arrears.
Moreover, it is suspected that the security deposit of G$25 million paid by the Government as an advance payment for rental of the building, was used by the landlord to purchase the property.
According to the contract, the landlord enjoys three secured years with a 12-month notice of termination.