Opposition left some “deep dark holes” – Min. Harmon on High Court ruling on TPL land battle

DPI, GUYANA, Monday, April 23, 2018

Minister of State, Joseph Harmon has labelled as “unfair” the recent ruling of the High Court, which has ordered the government to pay over $1.7 Billion in damages to Toolsie Persaud Limited, noting that the previous PPP administration has left some “deep dark holes” for the current administration to fill.

Last Thursday, High Court Judge Brassington Reynolds handed down the decision, ruling that the government of Guyana will have to pay the $1.7 Billion damages, as well as $500,000 for the defendant’s courts cost, along with interest.

According to Minister Harmon, the matter has not yet been discussed at the level of Cabinet and he, therefore, could not say what the decision will be. “It is something that will have to be discussed at Cabinet,” he said earlier today.

“It just goes to show the levels to which this country had sunk under the PPP and the huge amount of debt they have created for us. We have had no benefit whatsoever from that,” Minister Harmon said.

Minister of State, Joseph Harmon

He said the Opposition sold the land to persons who were on friendly terms with them at a price which was beneficial to those persons.

“But now the burden has become one for us. That is not fair,” he stated.

According to a local press report, the judge ordered that interest be paid at a rate of six percent per annum from the filing of the writ in 2008 to yesterday’s date. Additionally, the interest of four percent per annum has to be paid from the date of judgement, until full payment.

Lawyers for the State had requested and were granted a six-week stay of execution in the event of an appeal. TPL and the government were represented by Senior Counsel Robin Stoby and Ashton Chase, respectively. NICIL, meanwhile, was represented by attorney Timothy Jonas.

The entire tract of land had been the subject of a compulsory acquisition order (CAO) of June 8th, 1977. In October 1987, the state contracted to sell the entire tract to TPL and the company took possession in April 1988.

In May of 2011, Multicinemas Guyana Incorporated purchased part of the disputed land from NICIL for $187 Million for the construction of a cinema and a mall. Multicinemas is owned by the MovieTowne shopping complex, located in Port of Spain, Trinidad.

By: Alexis Rodney

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