TPL questions mall contract award for its property
Guyana Chronicle
May 8, 2002

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TOOLSIE Persaud Limited (TPL) has expressed concern over the Government announcement that a contract has been awarded for the construction of a vendors mall on the company’s Water Street, Georgetown property.

Cabinet, last week, approved the $26M award to Courtney Benn Contracting Services, saying it followed much discussion surrounding the congestion caused by sellers along Water Street.

But TPL said Monday, that, contrary to statements by Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr Roger Luncheon, it is, in fact, challenging the legality of the decision by the State to compulsorily acquire the site.

After much controversy, the matter was taken to Court and Luncheon said the case surrounds the issue of compensation and not the actual acquisition of the land.

TPL, however, maintained Monday that the motion currently before the Court is quite clear that the Government takeover move is a “violation by the State of the applicant’s (TPL) fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 40, 142 and 149 of the Constitution.”

The company is also raising issues relevant to how much it will be paid and arguing that the land cannot be vested in the State until such time as the firm secures the current market value “based on a scientific and professional valuation and not the arbitrary and capricious value fixed by the Government.”

TPL said it is seeking a Court declaration that the compulsory acquisition “is unconstitutional, null, void and of no legal effect” and was done in bad faith, discriminatorily and in contravention of Articles 40 and 149 of the Constitution.

TPL said, through its lawyers, Senior Counsel Rex McKay and Edward Luckoo, it is asking for redress under Article 153 of the Constitution.

Justice B.S. Roy held a first hearing on October 22 last year and Government, through the Attorney General, has since responded.

According to TPL, Mr McKay said he is anxiously awaiting some intimation of the next date from the judge.

TPL is of the view that, until the issues raised in its application have been determined and resolved by the Court, it would be inappropriate for Government to proceed with its plans for the location.

TPL Chairman, Mr Toolsie Persaud said his company has no arrangement to withdraw the lawsuit with which it fully intends to go on and he wondered about the propriety of Luncheon making a statement he ought to know was not in consonance with the facts.

TPL said its challenge to the acquisition by Government, as set out in the particulars to the Court, is based on its contention that:

· the State owns and/or has access to several pieces of unoccupied land and properties of similar size in and around Water Street, which are suitable for the very purpose which the Government seeks to acquire the TPL property;

· the purpose for which the land is needed is not a public purpose;

· Section 6 A of the Acquisition of Lands for Public Purposes (Amendment) Act, 2001, is unconstitutional, not having been passed by a two-thirds majority in Parliament, in accordance with the requirements of the Constitution and · the Acquisition of Land for Public Purposes Act, Chapter 62:05 is inconsistent with Article 142 of the Constitution, by failing to set out a scheme to establish the principles on which compensation for the compulsory acquisition is to be determined.

The location of the mall was identified by the intended beneficiaries around the middle of last year and they were expected to occupy it by September.