15 leases given out before 2015 election, Minister says
Planning and Development Minister Camille Robinson-Regis on Wednesday revealed that some 15 leases were given out just before the 2015 election.
Her revelation follows claims by Opposition MP Dr. Bhoe Tewarie that all the Chaguaramas land deals under the People’s Partnership administration were above board.
The former Planning and Development Minister made the claim in response to allegations levelled by the Prime Minister that the PP government gave away acres of prime land in Chaguaramas before the 2015 general election.
On Sunday, Dr. Keith Rowley said government is moving to reclaim the lands.
Speaking at a media conference on Wednesday, Minister Camille Robinson-Regis said certain leases were given out between the 2010-2015 period.
“In fact, our investigation showed that there were over 44 leases or licenses or development agreements done during that period,” Robinson-Regis stated.
The Minister added that during the period August to September 2015, a few days before the general election, there were some fifteen leases agreed to.
“And the last of these were agreed to on September 6, 2015," she noted.
She explained when the government came into office it was concerned about several of the leases and set up a team to investigate the validity of them.
The Minister revealed that two of the leases were found to be unfavourable and not in the public’s interest to the Chaguaramas Development Authority (CDA).
According to Robinson-Regis, this include a lease dated May 22, 2015 between a company called Chaguaramas Parking Limited (CPL).
She said the major terms of that lease were that the CDA would lease 1.62 hectares of land to CPL for 30 years at a lease rental rate of $1.00 annually and CPL would construct a 1,000-car park facility and, subsequently, lease the car park back to the CDA at a monthly rate of $898,000.
She said the other was a lease dated April 25, 2014 between a company called Fouraime Enterprises Limited (Fouraime) and the CDA which was a 30-year lease, the initial rent for the first eighteen months was $3,400 per month and after the eighteen-month initial period, an annual rental of $5,000,000.
According to the Minister Robinson-Regis, two other agreements were executed by Fouraime and CDA on September 4, 2015 for Fouraime to surrender five acres of its leased land back to the CDA and for the CDA to provide temporary car park facilities and to pay Fouraime the sum of $600,000.
She added that on analysis of the terms of the Fouraime lease it was discovered that there was significant non-compliance with the CDA’s leasing policy.
Robinson Regis revealed the Government has been in negotiations with Fouraime and one of the victories is that CPL has agreed to surrender its lease without any cost to CDA provided that the CDA provide 1,000 car park spots for Fouraime’s customers on or before March 31, 2018.
She indicated that the issue concerning the Guave Road Farmers and Haig Community group’s right to possession of two parcels of land in the Guave Road area for the planting of crops has been resolved.
The Minister also added that discussions have taken place with the tenant, Chaguaramas Farms Ltd (Caribbean Chemicals and Agencies Limited), as it relates to the surrendering of part of the lands leased that are not being utilised by the company.