…says negotiation more effective in recovering state assetsReports suggested that the State Asset Recovery Agency (SARA) has taken steps to recover assets through negotiation. According to one political analyst, this is something that should have been done a long time ago.In an interview with Guyana Times, Political Analyst and former Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr Henry Jeffrey noted that this is something done around the world when countries try to recover state assets.He noted that investigators may have put the proverbial cart before the horse by arresting persons and approaching the courts without putting effort into negotiation and reaching a settlement.The political analyst pointed to the benefits of going to persons with a figure and negotiating payments to recover the value of the asset, versus going to the courts and possibly getting nothing.“(Only) when the people say no, they’re not paying. But that was political grandstanding. Now they gone back to the very thing they should have done in the first (place). Why you (have to) carry people in front of station, drag them here, drag them there, for something you have now gone back to the very same thing you should have done.”Dr Jeffrey noted that such prosecutions can take years in order to build credible cases. He noted that many countries go the route of reaching out of court settlements, in a way that ensures the state is still reimbursed.“There are examples and precedents all around the world, showing it takes years. Plus you have to get the best people… (SARA) is there to try to get back the nation’s funds. Well that’s what they should do in the first place.”“That should have been the first move, instead of dragging people around and in the end, return to the same (approach) to tell them to pay. Now if they don’t want pay that’s a different matter. But it was political grandstanding.”SARA Director Professor Clive Thomas was quoted saying in sections of the media on Sunday that some persons who were sold land at the Pradoville Two Housing Scheme had chosen to settle with the agency.He had noted that the State Assets Recovery Bill provides for them to negotiate settlements. In addition, Jeffrey revealed that the Police Legal Advisor, retired Justice Claudette Singh had recommended this approach.Recently, audit firm Ram and McRae called for SARA to be scrapped altogether, in its ‘budget focus’ published review of budget 2019. The firm had listed some qualms with SARA, including the agency’s failure to have its annual plan and Code of Practise tabled in the National Assembly.Pointing out that the $285 million the agency is set to receive in 2019 is an increase from last year’s amount, Ram and McRae was critical of this lapse. Also, the firm had been of the view that SARA has failed to live up to its expectations of recovering assets.SARA Deputy Director Aubrey Heath-Retmeyer has previously defended his agency’s performance by noting that 2018 will make the agency’s first full budgetary year. He had said the agency is still in its infancy stages.