Indian Conglomerate Ajeenkya DY Patil has indicated to the Government of Guyana that they are still interested in developing several hectares of land in the Canje Basin in Berbice. This disclosure was made by Agriculture Minister Dr. Leslie Ramsammy during a recent interview with this publication.
The Indian company in August had made claims that the Government of Guyana had provided them with a 99-year lease on 60,000 hectares of land located in the Canje Basin for a mega-farm.
Moreso, they had claimed that the Government of Guyana will provide tax holidays, waive import and export duties, and provide exemption from local taxes. However, Minister Ramsammy has denied all the claims by the company.
Ramsammy told Kaieteur News that even though the original Memorandum of Understanding between the two countries had expired, DY Patil has indicated that they will still going through with the deal. The Minister explained that the company has indicated that they are working on a revised project and will be in Guyana in the near future.
He remained positive that the company will start operations in Guyana. Late last year the Agriculture Ministry had made the disclosure about the land deal.
Ramsammy has denied that his ministry allocated more lands in the Canje Basin, or entered into any “new deals” with the Indian conglomerate. However this was in stark contradiction to what the company claimed on its website.
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.”
However, 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 to take place in the concession.
Ramsammy, in response had told this publication that he was “totally unaware” of the claims made by the conglomerate. The Minister has out rightly denied that he or his Ministry has given any more lands to the conglomerate.
The Indian company had stated too that 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 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).
This particular announcement by the Indian company has raised questions over the manner Government has been going about courting investors. In most cases, Guyanese only learn of details after the deal is done and in some cases, by chance.
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