Ramotar should have addressed Red House issue months ago-Harmon
GINA, Guyana, Monday, February 2, 2017
Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, said that the document regarding the Red House lease agreement was made public and former President Donald Ramotar should have made known his involvement at around the same time.
Harmon at the time was responding to reports which stated that the former President said that he had granted Red House lease. “The document is now public records, so whether or not he signed or didn’t sign it, it is in the public domain for all to see,” Harmon said during his post –Cabinet press briefing today, at the Ministry of the Presidency.
Former President Ramotar has filed an Affidavit in the High Court to support the motion filed by the Opposition seeking to bar the revocation of a lease to the Red House.
In the document dated January 30, 2017, Ramotar explained that as President of Guyana, he exercised all powers conferred upon himself by the Constitution and Laws of Guyana in leasing the property. He added that he was aware and authorised and sanctioned the issuance of a lease for the Government land for educational /research purposes on the March 30, 2012 in respect to areas ‘A’ now called Red House comprising of Lots 65, 66 and 67 High Street Kingston.
“I wouldn’t want to question the capacity of the former President to remember things but certainly if that was so, then the public ought to have known months ago after it was raised in the National Assembly and all that,” Minister Harmon reiterated.
When the government took office in May, 2015 it discovered that anyone occupying lots 65, 66 and 67 and the Red House Building would be trespassing.
The lease agreement for the facility was originated without the approval of either the President of the day or the National Trust of Guyana. This was in breach of Section 10 of the Lands Department Act Chapter 59:01.
The occupants had no status as a tenant and were paying $1000 per month or $12,000 per year for the property.
After almost two years of notice, in December 2016, President David Granger, ordered that the lease for the building which housed the Cheddi Jagan Research Centre Incorporated (CJRCI) be revoked and that the occupants vacate the property.
Subsequently, the opposition moved to the High Court to bar the revocation of a lease and the removal of artifacts from Red House.
The Red House is established in The National Trust of Guyana Monuments Register as a Public Building/National Monument/Heritage Site. The Trust was established under The National Trust Act Chapter 20:03 Laws of Guyana, which is an “Act to make provision for the preservation of monuments, sites, places and objects of historic interest or national importance”.
Its main responsibility is the preservation of all monuments of Guyana, which under the Act includes “any building, structure or object or other work of man…” The National Trust also “shall not transfer, mortgage, lease, charge or dispose of any land without the approval of the Minister,” according to its webpage.
By: Syneika Thorne