Board members are not supposed to be benefitting from lands at the Mahaica-Mahaicony-Abary Agricultural Development Authority (MMA/ADA).
This was the opinion of Region 5 chairman, Vickram Ramphal yesterday.
He was responding to questions about a report on Christmas Day in Kaieteur News about MMA-ADA’s chairman, Kelvin Saul, receiving over 10,000 acres.
At the time of the lease of the lands, located in the right back of the Mahaica River, it appeared that Saul was the chairman of the authority, which is responsible for managing thousands of acres in the area. The lease transaction took place months ago.
Ramphal is a board member, representing Region 5. He said he saw the report and was unable to provide details. He needs to check on the minutes of previous meetings to verify the transaction that was reported.
While Ramphal does not think the MMA-ADA act speaks about how board members will be handled should such situation arise, the official was clear that it should not be common practice.
He asked that Kaieteur News make contact with him again to get more details.
He was sure of one thing. “That amount of land under the previous administration could never happen.”
This week, the Opposition raised concerns about a possible conflict of interest situation involving Saul.
However, there appears in the MMA-ADA Act, some warnings about conflict of interest.
According to the MMA-ADA act, in the Second Schedule, “A member of the Authority shall not take part in or vote on the decision whether at a meeting of the Authority or of a committee on any matter with respect to and transaction between the authority and any person in whose business the member is pecuniarily interested, whether directly or indirectly…”
According to lease documents, Mc Agricultural Trading and Investment Service was the beneficiary of 10,609.319 acres within the last year. That entity is a sole owner business registered to Saul. The lands were applied for agricultural purposes.
According to the lease documents, the plot of land is located on the right bank of the Mahaica River. Identified as ‘Tract A’, the land is said to be situated between Captain River and Walalbabu Creek.
The Opposition is contending that there are other cases of what it describes as land grabbing, ahead of the March 2nd general elections.
Opposition parliamentarian, Harry Gill, said that the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) is gathering evidence.
The MMA/ADA is a semi-autonomous agency under the Ministry of Agriculture, governed by a Board of Directors. The Board is responsible for the formulation of policies for the efficient functioning and operations of the MMA/ADA. It has thousands of acres of farmlands it is responsible for.
The authority was formed as the executing agency for the construction of all drainage and irrigation works in Region 5.
The agency is also responsible for the allocation of state lands between the Berbice and Mahaica Rivers.