Successive Govts have failed to honour agreement – BBCI

first_imgGovt takeoverThe Berbice Bridge Company Inc (BBCI) on Friday signalled its intention to appeal the recent court ruling by acting Chief Justice, Roxane George, who in her judgment said that the Government’s takeover of the Bridge was lawful.According to the Berbice Bridge Company Inc, it will, in due course, make its filings to the Court of Appeal seeking to set aside or reverse the ruling of the Chief Justice.Chief Justice Roxane George“The Company has, on many occasion pointed out that successive Governments have failed to honour the Agreement for annual adjustments of the toll to cross the Bridge, resulting in accumulated loss of billions of dollars to the Company,” BBCI said in its statement.It added that it has pointed out that since June 2015, the Public Infrastructure Minister has consistently refused to meet to discuss toll adjustments.“In the meantime, since the takeover of the Bridge and control over the toll charges, the Company is expected to meet the cost of its operations at continuing loss to the company.”The Berbice River BridgeIn November 2018, BBCI disclosed that the Company was facing bankruptcy and as such proposed to increase its tolls to keep the Berbice Bridge afloat. The BBCI, in which the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) has majority voting rights on the Board of Directors, was forced to push for the increase in tolls in order to protect its investment, the newspaper was told.In a shocking move last November, Public Infrastructure Minister, David Patterson announced that the Government would be taking control of the Berbice Bridge. The Government’s snatch was an apparent effort to nationalise the structure, which was financed mainly by private investors.BBCI had denounced the shocking announcement, describing the order as unlawful. The company then challenged the decision in the High Court.Earlier this week, in her ruling, the CJ said that Government’s temporary takeover of the Berbice River Bridge was lawful and also stated that she saw no reason for the court’s interference with the decision since no evidence was provided which prove that the actions were arbitrary.The Government’s decision did not go down well with BBCI Vice Chairman Paul Cheong, who in 2018 told Guyana Times that such an arbitrary move was a slap in the face of all public-private partnerships.Several members of the Private Sector were on edge, as, according to a leading businessman, the move by Government did not augur well for investors in Guyana.Former Attorney General, Anil Nandlall, in weighing in on the issue, had said that the move by Government to take possession of the Bridge under the guise that it was acting “in the interest of public safety” must have shocked the conscience of every law-abiding citizen of this land.In the 1970s and 1980s, numerous private properties were compulsorily acquired by the then PNC Administration. These properties include what is now Citizens Bank, Hope Estate Limited, a huge tract of land at Liliendaal, Takuba Lodge, Echilibar Villas and dozens more. In many instances, no monies were paid to the owners of these properties and in the cases where there were payments, the price was pegged to a 1939 valuation as was the law during that period.According to Nandlall, this act of the Government will certainly cause irreversible damage to Guyana’s image as an investment destination.last_img

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