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NO VALUE IN NO MAN’S LAND

News day / At a news briefing at Valpark Chinese Restaurant, Permell said a truer valuation would reduce Clico’s debt by a larger amount. “If you don’t transfer the land at the right value, you’ll be short-changing Clico,” Permell said. He joked with reporters that if they know anywhere in Trinidad or Tobago selling land at $10 per square foot, to please tell him so he could contact his bankers to arrange a purchase.

He contrasted the $174 million valuation of Buccoo Estate as stated by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley at last Thursday’s post-Cabinet media conference, to a $866 million fair market figure, which Permell claimed was stated in a PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) report.

The Buccoo Estate – valued by PM Rowley at $174 million – includes No Man’s Land plus the upmarket Samaan Park Development, the latter which Permell said by itself, is worth $244 million.

He said a 2016 valuation done by GA Farrell and Associates had said that while Samaan Park was part of the 429 acres of Buccoo Estate lands that were transferred to the Government, the 31-acre Samaan Grove was not considered in the valuation of the overall estate. Permell quoted the Farrell document, “The area includes Samaan Grove which does not form part of this (valuation) exercise.” Further, he cited a real estate agent website, Abrahams Realty, which had individual lots at Samaan Park being offered for sale at a very high value, all of which he said enforces his argument that the Buccoo Estate overall, was transferred for less than its true value.

He said that agency’s website is selling lots of 7,000 square feet for $1.15 million, working out at $177 per square foot. “Why would you want to exclude Samaan Park, the most valuable part? I calculate that $245 million is the value of Samaan Park.” Permell also queried Rowley’s $174 million figure, saying Clico’s 2016 audited financial statements had valued the Buccoo lands at $187 million. “So the transfer price was $13 million less than its book value…a $13 million loss to Clico.” He quipped, “I never knew that land depreciates in TT.” Permell also asked why the Farrell report had said the land valuation of Buccoo Estate had excluded 16 acres known as service lands or sewer lands. “We have not seen the valuation for those lands,” he said. Permell urged that the land transfer be reversed or alternatively, that the land be offered to citizens to purchase at $10 per square foot.

“Who is giving the Prime Minister information? He is not infallible; he is not the Pope. He got misinformation.

I don’t hold him responsible.” Permell said, “The Central Bank Governor must say if he got instructions to transfer the lands. It’s not unlawful for the Government to give instructions to the Central Bank. The Central Bank must ensure it is a proper valuation report.” Calling for clarification from the Government, Clico board and Central Bank, Permell asked, “Who gave instructions for these (Samaan Grove) lands to be excluded?” (See Page 7A)

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