first_imgShipping company leaseCity Hall and the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) are currently battling over a plot of land on Lombard Street, and both sides have presented evidence to back their claim of ownership of the property.The unending conflict continued once again at the Commission of Inquiry, where Town Clerk Royston King presented documents to show that the land is owed by the Mayor and City Council and had been leased before on two occasions. It is alleged that King leased the land, located at Lot 1 Mudflat, Lombard Street, for a price of $625,000 per year since 2016.NICIL would have provided statements to the Commission, via its in-house Attorney Arianne McLean, which posited that they acquired the property in 2002. The Guyana National Engineering Corporation (GNEC) would have vested all of its assets to NICIL and they became the lawful owner.GNIC was occupying the said piece of land as a tenant from 1995, and when NICIL acquired the property in 2002, GNIC continued to operate with the new proprietor.“The original owner of the property was GNEC. They leased it to GNIC by a 1995 lease. In 2002, GNEC was dissolved by a vesting order and GNIC remained the tenant.”Represented by Attorney-at-Law Maxwell Edwards, King appeared before the CoI on Friday and a discussion led to Edwards referring to the organisation as a “fraud”.In April of 2016, the lease was granted by Town Clerk Royston King for the Quick Shipping Incorporated to operate at the Lot 1 Mudflat, Lombard Street property. While a letter was issued to NICIL for permission, it was insinuated that King did not submit the document to the council for deliberation, as was mandatory.King’s lawyer maintained that City Hall is the rightful owner of the wharf, and further declared “NICIL is a fraud”, since the property was never conferred.On another note, King verified that this matter was never brought to the attention of the Council, since he has the power to ensure all of the Council’s properties are effectively managed. Additionally, he said, the land was leased before, and he was continuing that process.Conversely, when he tried to prove his point using the Municipal and District Council’s Act (Chapter 28:01), Justice Cecil Kennard clarified that this does not give him the authority to lease lands. He also mentioned that the Council should’ve been informed, since the parties had changed.Furthermore, while the Town Clerk stated that the monies were paid to the council, Tax Collecting Officer of the City Treasury Department, Kim Forbes, had told the CoI there are no records of payment by the shipping company for 2016, but yet the company managed to submit their receipts during their statement. In 2017 and 2018, $625,000 was paid to the Council.Reneged tax waiverKing was also subjected to answer to his private meeting with the Chairman of Giftland Mall, Royston Beepat, for the waiver of taxes.Consultant of MCG Investments Inc, Ray Hugh, represented Beepat and exposed that a meeting was convened between the duo, whereby it was agreed that all rates and taxes, including penalties and interests, would be waved completely for the years 2015 and 2016. Additionally, for 2017, Giftland Mall would only be required to pay a sum of $11,467,500 after the interests and penalties would’ve been waived. This was after a letter was issued stating that the mall owed $44,255,183 to the local organ body.King was required to respond via a letter after the engagement to confirm the agreements, but the company said he issued a letter sometime after, stating that the agreement ‘no longer stood’ because of the lapse of time and ‘certain circumstances’.The Town Clerk admitted that he did attend the meeting, but said this was only at the behest of the Finance Sub-Committee, who thought of it as the best way of obtaining whatever sum was owed. King also claimed that he did not engage in discussions about the wavering of outstanding rates and taxes.“There was no discussion on waiving any taxes. There was discussion concerning options in respect to the interests that were approved on the taxes,” he said.“I’m not aware”For the many vendors who have been complaining about their stalls being demolished and items seized, the Town Clerk posited that he was “unaware of”, or couldn’t “recall,” most of the incidents.He further stated that he is responsible for the administration of the Council, and Clerk of Markets Sherlock Lovell and the City Engineer’s Department would usually deal with these issues.A Bourda Market vendor, Desrey Dey, would have testified that her stall was demolished along with 21 others in 2015.She stated that they were informed by Town Clerk Royston King that they would have to remove their stalls to make accommodation for works at the Bedford School. After a few days had elapsed and King had failed to meet with them, an excavator was instructed to demolish her stands, causing her to incur losses amounting to $300,000.King told the Commission that he does not know anyone by the name of Desrey Dey, and he indicated that there were no stalls at that area, only tables and stands. As of now, no school was ever built at the location.last_img

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