…“I would rather lose… than pay a cent in a bribe” – CEO to City HallAn operating restaurant franchise in Guyana has reportedly lost close to $30 million in just over three years after several proposals were not responded to by City Hall, which they said could have be easily resolved if a bribe was given.Chief Executive Officer of Camex Restaurants Incorporated, Terence Campbell, testified on Wednesday at the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into several applications that were submitted to the City Engineer’s Department at the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) as it relates to properties in Georgetown.However, one issue that was questionable was in respect to a property at Croal Street, Stabroek, which previously housed the Sino fast food restaurant. Campbell indicated that the intention was to establish another branch of the popular Church’s Chicken in 2016.After agreements were signed with Sino fast food to take over the company and documents were finalised with the owner of the property to obtain a long-term lease, the CEO stated that the M&CC heard of the operations and he was visited by Town Clerk Royston King, Mayor Patricia Chase Green, and City Engineer Colvern Venture less than a week after. The businessman was told he had no permission to operate, even though that is not the standard procedures set out when obtaining a business place.“The Mayor, the Town Clerk and the City Engineer turned up immediately to say that the building which previously operated as Sino fast food for over two years had no permission to operate. What I find very strange is that for two years, this building operated as a restaurant but from the moment they heard that Church’s was going there, they turned up saying that you have no permission to operate,” said the businessman.As per what he was told, Campbell proceeded to submit applications to the City Engineer’s Department, which were neither approved not acknowledged. Consequently, the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) was engaged and permission was given.He noted that works would been done at the fast food joint to upgrade the facilities as well as a monthly rent of over $1.2 million was paid. One year of rent was paid and the business was never opened since no permission was given by the Council. Management was later forced to terminate the lease and was also sued by Sino fast food.“We didn’t even operate for a day and I lost $20 million.”‘Pure incompetence’ and ‘gross negligence’ were the words of the businessman as he commented on the operations at the Council. He noted that some businessmen in the city are also working in collusion with the M&CC to stifle other businesses which may pose competition.“I have been told by other businessmen that the matter can be easily resolved and they’re willing to take me to functionaries so that the matter can be resolved…. I would rather lose $30 million than pay a cent in a bribe.”He further stated that since the new Council was elected with Colvern Venture serving as the City Engineer, none of his proposals were approved. He has been told that the matters could easily be fixed with a bribe, which he will never pay.“I don’t believe that since Colvern Venture has become the City Engineer that we’ve had any permission for any work whatsoever…”Interventions were taken by the then Deputy Mayor, Lionel Jaikaran, and the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce but there has been no resolution to the matter.Some of the other proposals which were never approved include application for a South Ruimveldt property to commence construction, permission to extend an existing building on Camp Street and the documents for works on a residential property in Crown Street and Lamaha Gardens.