– highlights that there’s no tender process for agriculture lands
By Latoya Giles
Minister of Agriculture, Dr Leslie Ramsammy has debunked rumors that special consideration was given to the DY Patil Group stating that he is unaware of any relationship between the Patil group and Surendra Engineering.
Surendra Engineering is the company which was given the contract to build the Specialty Hospital, at Turkeyen, East Coast Demerara. They also constructed the Enmore Packaging Plant.
According to the Minister, the DY Patil Group had negotiated to facilitate an agriculture project in Guyana and was given access to 10,000 acres of land. Ramsammy explained that like other investors, the DY Patil Group will have access to more land if they develop the 10,000 acres in accordance with the agreement brokered with government.
In terms of the vetting process, Ramsammy said that at least 14 groups have submitted proposals to the Ministry even as he confirmed that there is no tender process out. According to Dr. Ramsmmy, Guyana has three million hectares of agricultural lands that has no infrastructure and as such both local and international investors have been invited to help develop the land.
He explained that the persons submitting proposals would ask for various ‘things’which the Ministry would consider.
“Based on those proposals we would sign Memorandum of Understandings to develop more details and to develop feasibility studies. The first was given to Santa Fe in Region Nine.” Ramsammy told Kaieteur News. According to the Minister, that group had asked for 10,000 acres of land and has developed a plan for 30,000. As such they have since been given an additional 20,000 acres.
“That group is growing rice, soya, corn and cassava,” the Minister said. The DY Patil Group has presented a proposal to grow corn, sugar cane and biodiesel.
At his weekly media briefing on Wednesday, Cabinet Secretary, Dr. Roger Luncheon failed to provide answers to the growing questions regarding a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) inked with Government and the DY Patil Group out of India, as well as a Chinese Company, “China Paper.”
The DY Patil Group has begun the process of cultivating 10,000 hectares of land in the Canje Basin for agricultural-related projects, while China Paper is a company seeking to start the utilization of forest pulp paper among central enterprises. Luncheon at his weekly press briefing, said that he could not answer any questions on the two companies at this time.
“I owe you and the members of the media an apology because I could have boned up on the matter, then I saw Rupert Roopnaraine’s (MP) incisive intervention on the matter and called for them to come clean…I could have but I didn’t,” Dr Luncheon told reporters. He undertook to have the information available by the next press briefing.
APNU’s Joe Harmon, commenting on the recent revelations of the two companies, said that Guyanese are getting to see every one of former President Bharrat Jagdeo’s “secret and shady” deals uncovered. According to Harmon, these “deals” probably did not involve the elements of the state or any negotiations.
“This is the legacy that Jagdeo has left behind; a legacy of badly worked deals, the architecture of badly put together deals that are in no way in the best interest of Guyana” Harmon said.
Dr. Ajeenka DY Patil is part of the Patil group which is a major Indian Company that has signed an MOU with the government. The projects being undertaken by the group would include dairy processing, rice milling and processing, fisheries and poultry, fruit and vegetables and sugar cane production with ethanol and power.
Dr. Patil, on his official website is quoted as stating that investing in Guyana “is a financially viable and potentially profitable proposal for investors in the region due to the global growth in demand for agriculture produce.”
“The region [Guyana] is unexploited and is economically robust and politically stable. It will improve the quality of life of the average Guyanese citizen and increase the economic vitality of the country; all of this backed by the experienced management of the Ajeenka DY Patil Group,” Dr. Patil said.
Dr. Ajeenka Patil, besides being a business investor happens to be Guyana’s Honorary Consul in Mumbai, India.
On Monday, Guyana’s Ambassador to Caricom and Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Elisabeth Harper, said that “anyone” could be an Honorary Consul once the person is a resident in the country. She said that the Ministry did make an announcement publicly but pointed out that this was “a long time” ago.
Kaieteur News was told that the situation with Dr. Patil not being Guyanese is not something out of the ordinary. Harper explained that there are non Guyanese Honorary Consul in several countries, including Jordan, Palestine and Lebanon. With regards to Government funding, Harper said Patil is not being paid for the position he holds since his position is “Honorary” as compared to someone who is a ‘Consul General.’
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