Apr 29, 2018 News
Government will not be rushed into making speedy decisions on the sugar industry. That could cause more headaches.
In fact, Government is going to be very deliberate on the future of the industry and how monies are being spent, says Minister of State, Joseph Harmon.
This latest development would come as the administration make preparations for the industry to be privatized with some services, like drainage and health centers, and assets already divested.
The situation of a new board came to the public attention recently after it became known that Cabinet was in a dilemma – there were two boards in place.
In March, a new board of the state-owned, smaller sized Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) was registered with Colvin Heath-London the new chairman. He is the current head of the Special Purpose Unit (SPU) which is overlooking the privatization and divestment process of four “closed” estates– Skeldon, Rose Hall, Enmore and Wales.
However, it appears that members of the Cabinet were not too happy with the new board which included environmentalist, Annette Arjoon, contractor Komal Singh and business personality, Rosh Khan.
The appointment letters were sent to members of the new board by the Ministry of Finance but the work has not kicked into gear as the announcement appeared to have been premature, says Finance Minister, Winston Jordan.
It was disclosed that the Agriculture Minister, Noel Holder, will have to name a new board.
The legal problem is that GuySuCo’s shares were last December transferred to the state-owned National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited. This in effect took the decisions out from the Ministry of Agriculture as far as GuySuCo is concerned.
Under the company laws, the shareholders have to name the new board- in this case- the executives of NICIL which controlled the shares.
Any attempt to have the Agriculture Minister name a new board, lawyers warned last week, would be tantamount to political inference and breach of the Company Act.
To compound matters, the Finance Minister recently said that the old board, which has come under fire, and headed by Professor Clive Thomas, was still in force to the end of this month-tomorrow.
The old board had come under scathing criticisms for its handling of the sending home of 4,000 workers abruptly at the end of last year.
Three estates- Skeldon, Rose Hall and Enmore– were all closed within days of each other leaving workers shocked and unions angry.
The administration said it did not get any notice to discuss the matter at Cabinet level, leaving the Thomas-led board out in the cold.
The industry, in steady decline over a decade now, is in deep financial crisis with the administration unwilling to plug more monies in.
Over the last three years, GuySuCo received $32B in bailouts with little to show. The monies were largely used to pay salaries and wages with production plunging to new lows.
SPU has restarted Enmore and Rose Hall to harvest canes in the ground and have the states as a going concern for potential investors.
However, with little cash, the administration is unhappy with any further spending.
SPU has hired PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to conduct valuations for the four estates and assess over 70 proposals. That process is taking time.
On Friday, Minister Harmon made it clear that the new board consideration, despite the obvious dilemma, is with Cabinet.
On Tuesday, Heath-London and GuySuCo’s CEO, Paul Bhim, were both summoned to Cabinet to update on the work of SPU and GuySuCo.
Based on the information provided, there could be an official board named shortly, the minister said.
He insisted that as a Government, it is their duty and responsibility to ensure that all monies plugged into state entities have to receive value.
He noted that GuySuCo and other entities which come to the state for subventions… for money… on a regular basis, will have in fact account to the people of this country how they spend it.
The minister would likely be referring to an unhappiness by the administration how the $32B was spent.
He noted that GuySuCo, currently being reconfigured, is not a very simple matter.
There are a number of developments that requires careful thought.
“And it is not something as a Government that we want to rush into,” he said.
The focus of Cabinet now, taken into account the ongoing changes and the privatization and divestment process, is to have the best possible board, the Minister of State stressed.
It would require people who are competent in sugar who understand the industry and business and understand the direction of the country to be able to serve on that board.
GuySuCo has been producing sugar at three times what it is selling for.
Dec 06, 2021ExxonMobil National Indoor Hockey Championships… Kaieteur News- The Guyana 40s and 50 Not Out proved that they belonged in the men’s senior division by both securing a semi-final berth as the...
Dec 06, 2021
Dec 05, 2021
Dec 05, 2021
Dec 05, 2021
Dec 05, 2021
Kaieteur News – My hair is grey. In the Kaieteur Radio studio, James Bond looked at me and commented on my grey hair.... more
Kaieteur News- The bulk of the masquerade bands which are parading the streets are a disgrace. They are doing a grave injustice... more
Freedom of speech is our core value at Kaieteur News. If the letter/e-mail you sent was not published, and you believe that its contents were not libellous, let us know, please contact us by phone or email.
Feel free to send us your comments and/or criticisms.
Contact: 624-6456; 225-8452; 225-8458; 225-8463; 225-8465; 225-8473 or 225-8491.
Or by Email: [email protected] / [email protected]