Aug 30, 2014 News
… says agreement inked with Ministry has expired
Agriculture Minister, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy, has denied that his Ministry allocated more lands in the Canje Basin, or entered into any “new deals” with Indian conglomerate, Ajeenkya DY Patil.
This is in stark contradiction to what the company claims on its website.
The company claimed that it has been provided with a 99-year lease on 60,000 hectares of land located in the Canje Basin for a mega-farm. Moreso, they are claiming that the Government of Guyana will provide tax holidays, waive import and export duties, and provide exemption from local taxes.
The Ministry of Agriculture had initially stated that it had given approximately 10,000 hectares of land in the Canje Basin to the group for “mega farming.” There have been no announcements by Government of any new arrangements.
On its website, the company said it was also able to acquire the rights to not only what is above the ground but below, a significant allowance, as it could pave the way for even mining taking place in the concession.
Ramsammy, in response yesterday, told Kaieteur News that he is “totally unaware” of the claims made by the conglomerate. The Minister has outrightly denied that he or his Ministry has given any more lands to the conglomerate.
“They are wrong…very wrong too…they first have to develop the 10,000 hectares which we had initially given to them.” According to the Minister, the group has not started to do anything with the lands allocated.
He told Kaieteur News that DY Patil is expected to submit a proposal to his Ministry. Up to yesterday, the Minister said that the group had not done so. Moreover, with regards to the groups’ claim that they were given “tax holidays, and a waiver on import and export duties, as well as exemption from local taxes,” Dr. Ramsammy said that he is totally unaware of this.
The Minister made it clear that the group never asked for “these things”, adding that they would not be given them if there is no proposal.
“I want to make it clear…the Ministry has nothing….no proposal, the MoU that was signed has even expired, and even if they go to GO-Invest they would be sent back to us since my Ministry has to pronounce on it.” On the group’s website, the Indian company stated that the Administration will provide a single window clearance for all approvals like visas for importing labour.
Further, Government will provide “sovereign guarantees” for successful funding of the project by international institutions.
The company went further. It said that Government agreed that it will support the building of a road along the East Bank of the Berbice River to the concession, and will also facilitate development of internal infrastructure in the area.
The group describes the project as a setup to an integrated agriculture business in Guyana.
“The Ajeenkya DY Patil Group is the main promoter of this project and has already entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Government of Guyana,” the group reported.
“With extensive experience and expertise of over 30 years in agriculture and related sectors, the group will bring solutions which will not only improve quality of agriculture produce, but also improve quality of life for Guyanese famers and will be complementary to the present agriculture system in Guyana.”
The group is claiming that they would make investments which would create directly over 15,000 new jobs in the Canje and the Berbice River areas, when fully realized. It is estimated that another 5,000 jobs will be created indirectly, supporting almost 15,000-20,000 families (approx 50,000 Guyanese).
The ADYP Group said that it has been assured of an active support from Government in the development of this project through a public–private partnership model.
The Patil Group is currently building a university at Turkeyen.
Dnyandeo Yashwantrao ‘DY’ Patil, happens to also be Guyana’s Honorary Consul in Mumbai, India. He and former President Bharrat Jagdeo both received Honorary Doctorates from Warwick University in London. After accepting that doctorate, Jagdeo received another from D Y Patil University.
This particular announcement by the Indian company would continue to raise questions over the manner Government has been going about in courting investors. In most cases, Guyanese only learn of details after the deal is done and in some cases, by chance.
Details of concessions have remained a closely guarded secret, with a number of investors, mainly Asians, including Chinese and Indian firms, in the spotlight.
Two companies, in particular, Chinese-owned Bai Shan Lin, and Vaitarna Holdings Private Inc., an Indian company, have been in the news for the generous concessions afforded them and several questionable arrangements with Government.
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