Tensions are mounting between the state-owned Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) and Government’s investment arm, the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited/Special Purpose Unit (NICIL/SPU).
One week after NICIL/SPU and consultant, PricewaterhouseCoopers, hosted a press conference criticising GuySuCo for its sloth in the release of information for the privatisation and divestment for four closed estates, the corporation hit back yesterday, insisting that it is all a smokescreen.
GuySuCo, which has three estates now under its wing, declared that it still trying to determine two key things – the purpose of the press conference and the motives behind the tactics used by NICIL.
GuySuCo also slammed media houses.
“The reports emanating from the media have been extremely sensational, dishonest and unprofessional to say the least. The Corporation is most disappointed that NICIL has chosen to conduct its business in the unprofessional manner in what has now become a norm for almost two years.”
GuySuCo, insisting that it manages a business, said that PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) was recruited as the consulting firm by the SPU to conduct the valuation of GuySuCo’s estates – Skeldon, Rose Hall, East Demerara (Enmore) and Wales.
GuySuCo said that Wilfred Bhagaloo was legally contracted as the ‘lead’ consultant – as such, it is outside of the remit for him or PricewaterhouseCoopers to be discussing the corporation’s business in public, moreso in the media, without its permission.
“The Corporation has observed that this has been occurring since early 2018 when the firm was recruited. Mr. Bhagaloo and PricewaterhouseCoopers were selected to conduct the valuation based on what was perceived to be the distinguished reputation; relative to professionalism and integrity with which they would have been expected to treat with information to which they have become privy, by their privileged position with companies and organisations.”
However, the corporation said in the statement, it is alarming that a reputable firm such as PwC would allow its name to be discredited, judging from its “extraordinary enthusiasm” to participate in activities along with NICIL-SPU, even though PWC is aware that the core of its business is hinged on its professionalism and the integrity with which it conducts its business.
“It is with much interest that the Corporation observed Mr. Bhagaloo’s eagerness to seemingly place his personal relationships
above the professionalism of PWC, as well as to participate in acts which are injurious to GuySuCo and its business. Then again, it is no secret that Mr. Colvin Heath-London and the ‘lead’ Consultant knew each other very well in Jamaica, prior to PwC’s engagement by the SPU,” the statement said.
According to GuySuCo, it views the disclosures as a gross breach of confidentiality and the standards of ethical conduct of the financial and investment industries by the consultant, which might incur serious consequences.
GuySuCo said that contrary to NICIL/SPU and PwC’s statements about GuySuCo’s non-cooperation in providing information requested, it has evidence otherwise.
GuySuCo included a list of the information it has submitted.
“On the point of NICIL’s professional connection to GuySuCo, the Corporation would like to remind the agency; there has been a confusion which started with the Special Purpose Unit (SPU) and now has consumed NICIL, as to its role. NICIL established the SPU to divest the assets of Skeldon, Rose Hall, East Demerara (Enmore) and Wales estates…”
However, at some point, NICIL “indecorously” assumed the role of the Ministry of Agriculture, the Government agency with responsibility for GuySuCo.
“…further, in an attempt to legitimise this position, NICIL had even speciously appointed its own Board of Directors in March of 2018, with Mr. Colvin Heath-London as its Chairman. This decision was quashed by the Government, however, NICIL has never abandoned the misconception that, GuySuCo, an independent corporate agency, by law, according to the Company’s Act, is neither a department, unit or owned by NICIL.”
With regard to the $30B bond, GuySuCo said that the NICIL/SPU’s single role was to divest GuySuCo’s assets from the Skeldon, Rose Hall, East Demerara (Enmore) and Wales estates. “…however, due to its slothfulness and less than credible ‘divestment’ tactics it has now placed at risk the retooling and restructuring of GuySuCo as it is clearly outlined in the Government of Guyana (GOG) State Paper on the Future of the Sugar Industry.”
GuySuCo was harsh in noting that NICIL-SPU, having been unable to divest the assets in a timely manner, convinced its principals that the bond was an appropriate alternative as an interim financial arrangement; the divestment process is now approaching its second year and NICIL/SPU has not executed one significant investment.
“GuySuCo, therefore is of the view that NICIL/SPU used the opportunity of the press conference on Monday 3 June, 2019, as a distraction from the fact that it’s has not achieved even one of its mandates for which it was created. As a matter of fact, in an attempt to extend the life of the SPU, having been created for the specific purposes above and within a particular timeframe; the agency has now assumed the role and operates as a proprietor and landlord. This is totally inconsistent with its intended purposes.”
GuySuCo also insisted that it “wishes to state clearly that NICIL/SPU are mere custodians of the Skeldon, Rose Hall, Enmore and Wales – all assets of GuySuCo for the specific purpose of facilitating divestments as envisaged in the State Paper on the Future of the Sugar Industry”.
The proceeds of the divestments must be remitted to GuySuCo in order to fund its strategic plan. The corporation made it clear that NICIL/SPU ought not to be the beneficiaries of the proceeds as currently obtains.
“Additionally, GuySuCo is still awaiting a full report from NICIL/SPU on all and any transaction(s) which were completed or are in progress in relation to its immoveable and moveable assets, including the scrap metals, machinery, plant and equipment. GuySuCo would also like to be informed by NICIL of the extent of the valuation done by PWC. Were all four estates including cultivations and other assets valuated?”
With regards to the $7B which NICIL claims is not being accounted for, GuySuCo said it is appalled by these statements, since NICIL is well aware that the corporation has several layers to ensure financial accountability.
“These include the procurement process by use of a credible tender process and annual financial statements among others. NICIL/SPU is once again invited to review the company’s financial records within the legal requirements.”
GuySuCo also denied it is using or wants to use NICIL’s money to buy vehicles.
“Finally, the Corporation has indeed requested duty free concessions to purchase appropriate vehicles to conduct its business, however, no SUVs or luxury vehicles as reported in the press were requested. The vehicles include double and single cab pickups for agricultural/farming use (to be used in the backdam/cultivations). Additionally, contrary to reports in the media, the funds from the bond were not used to purchase the said vehicles.”
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