Nov 26, 2016 News
Minister of Agriculture Noel Holder says while he is unaware that plans are afoot to sell the $200M Skeldon Sugar Factory, that doesn’t mean that Government should not explore it as an option as long as it’s feasible.
Over the last few days, there have been talks about the Government moving to sell the facility, with Leader of the Opposition Bharrat Jagdeo, claiming to have been ‘reliably informed’ that a foreign company – whose name he did not mention – had already been approached by high officials.
Jagdeo even went further to say that negotiations for the sale have already begun to such an extent, that prices are being discussed.
The former President then issued a call to the A Partnership for National Unity+ Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) Administration to come clean on its plans for the factory.
During a telephone interview with this publication, Minister Holder said that he does not know where the Leader of the Opposition is getting his information and his utterances may all be a ploy to gain points as the party is set to hold its biennial congress soon.
Holder said that the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) conducted a presentation on the Sugar Industry at a Cabinet Meeting recently where several proposals were put forward. These proposals, he said, are currently on the table, and Cabinet is carefully examining them with an intention to determine the best way forward.
A recently concluded Technical Assessment revealed that the facility is falling apart, where the International firm that compiled the report, discovered that the factory is deteriorating in several areas.
The report also provides numerous significant images of the bagasse-fired power plant within the factory. These revelations have resulted in observers questioning what could have caused the factory to be in such a state having only been commissioned just over seven years ago.
The facility was constructed under the previous regime; however Jagdeo has deflected all blame. He instead said that Booker Tate – the company that was hired as the Project Managers – was “supposed” to look over the construction of the facility. He contended that the company was entrusted with this critical aspect of the project because they were the ‘best’ at that time.
Meanwhile, several unions including the Guyana Agriculture and General Workers Union (GAWU); National Association of Agricultural, Commercial and Industrial Employees (NAACIE); Guyana Labour Union (GLU) and the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana (FITUG) are urging that the factory not be sold.
In a statement yesterday, FITUG expressed its “strong and unambiguous condemnation, bordering on outrage, regarding intimation to dispose by sale, the Guyana Sugar Corporation Inc (GuySuCo)’s major asset, the Skeldon factory and other related property.”
The Organisation stated that any sale of the Skeldon facility at this time would certainly impact negatively on the entire industry, which can only aggravate the country’s economic plight.
It reiterated that the retention, refurbishment and sustained technical maintenance of the Skeldon flagship estate will see an improvement, not only in GuySuCo, but also in the country.
The body also raised concerns in relation to transparency in the proposed Government-Corporation ‘sale’ scheme.
“FITUG urges the Government to tread warily, re-think hasty decisions and consult every stakeholder, including the unions and the political opposition on this ‘sale of Skeldon’ which, we firmly believe, will be disastrous…Do not sell Skeldon!”
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