Days after Kaieteur News reported that Indian Conglomerate Ajeenkya DY Patil claimed access to some 60,000 hectares of land in Guyana as well as a number of concessions, the company has removed the website from which the information was sourced.
The claim which was made by the Group, was debunked by Agriculture Minister, Dr Leslie Ramsammy. The issue has now engaged the attention of Opposition Leader Brigadier (rtd) David Granger.
Granger had told Kaieteur News on Friday that he’s astonished that this type of information has come to them by indirect means.
The company claimed that it was provided with a 99-year lease on 60,000 hectares of land located in Canje Basin for a mega-farm with the Government of Guyana providing tax holidays, waivers on import and export duties and exemption from local taxes.
Granger told Kaieteur News that the Party’s shadow Minister Dr. David Roopnarine, has already called for the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Ministry and the Indian Company to be brought to the National Assembly and have it publicly vetted.
The Opposition Leader said that they would not support something like that, which they feel “would jeopardize our own farmers.”
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”.
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 mining to taking place in the concession.
Ramsammy, in response told Kaieteur News that he is “totally unaware” of the claims made by the Indian company. The Minister has out rightly 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. 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.
On the group’s website, on Thursday the conglomerate 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 provide support in 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 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 said.
The Indian company 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.
“It is a financially viable and profitable proposal for investors as each of the chosen agriculture sectors represents high growth and low risk,” the Group stated on its website Back in November, Ramsammy had debunked reports that special consideration was given to the DY Patil Group. He had also denied that there was any relationship between the Patil group and Surendra Engineering.
Surendra Engineering is the company that was given the contract to build the Specialty Hospital, at Turkeyen, East Coast Demerara. It also constructed the Enmore Packaging Plant.
Dr. Ajeenka DY Patil is part of the Patil group which is a major Indian company. Dr. Patil, besides being a business investor, happens to 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.
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