Water street vendor relocation in limbo
Stabroek News
September 24, 2001

Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr Roger Luncheon confessed last week that the acquisition of the site to which the government intends to relocate the Water Street vendors is in limbo. Toolsie Persaud Ltd (TPL) is the present owner of the property.

At a standstill too is the process to appoint a panel to investigate charges against Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Legal Affairs, Ganga Persaud, whom the Office of the President said committed the government to a US$222,500/$42.8 million expenditure when he signed a contract with New Global Consults for which no funding had been allocated in the 2000 or 2001 national budgets.

Luncheon told reporters at a Cabinet press briefing on Wednesday at the Office of the President that the continued absence of Attorney General, Doodnauth Singh, had delayed the resolution of the process required by the legislation for the acquisition of the site for public purposes. Singh is recuperating abroad following heart bypass surgery. The government had vowed to have the vendors moved to the site by September 1.

Luncheon said too that there was still no movement on the issue of the valuation of the Water Street property, over which the government and TPL disagree. TPL obtained a valuation which said that the site was worth $437 million, but the government claimed that $100 million was a fair value for the site, bought for $2.3 million 12 years ago.

On the issue of Ganga Persaud, Dr Luncheon said it was unlikely that Home Affairs Minister, Ronald Gajraj, who was assigned responsibility for the AG's Chambers and Ministry of Legal Affairs, would want to become involved in an issue, which could have a profound effect on Persaud's career. He explained that the ministers assigned temporary responsibility for a ministry were only expected to deal with routine matters to ensure that they were not delayed by the absence of the substantive minister.

Dr Luncheon said that while Singh was expected to return to Guyana shortly, he could not say how long it would be before he was able to return to work. However, he explained that one of Singh's predecessors, who had undergone a similar operation, had to wait six months before he returned to work.