The public quarrel between the state’s Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) and the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) has Government worried.
The situation will be addressed by Cabinet in the coming weeks, said Director General of the Ministry of the Presidency, Joseph Harmon, on Friday, during his weekly post-Cabinet briefings.
NICIL and its Special Purpose Unit (SPU), which has been established to divest and privatized four closed sugar estates, had accused GuySuCo of withholding critical information.
The process for the four estates–Skeldon, Rose Hall, Enmore and Wales– has been dragging for almost two years now, with NICIL/SPU during a recent press conference, claiming that GuySuCo has been slow in sharing critical financial and other information.
NICIL/SPU has admitted that GuySuCo is receiving money but there is nothing to force the corporation to up its production.
GuySuCo has been left with three estates– Albion, Blairmont and Uitvlugt– and says it is depending on the sale of the estates to modernize and sustain operations on the long term.
NICIL/SPU says it has taken a bond of US$150M ($30B) with GuySuCo receiving about US$40M of it without providing details.
However, GuySuCo last week hit back accusing NICIL/SPU’s head, Colvin Heath-London, of having a questionable relationship with Wilfred Bhagaloo, the consultant from PricewaterhouseCoopers of Jamaica which is overseeing the privatization and divestment process.
GuySuCo denied it withheld information and has accused the NICIL/SPU and Bhagaloo of attempting to shift the attention from their failure to make progress.
The crosstalk between the two entities has reportedly angered members of the Cabinet, including President David Granger.
PwC, according to officials, has not been happy with the accusations from GuySuCo.
According to Harmon on Friday, the relationship between the two entities was noted by the Cabinet and the matter will be dealt with in the coming weeks.
“Sometimes the players themselves in the industry, even though you say to them keep these exchanges away from the media and let us deal with them in-house, sometimes you wake up and look into the newspapers and it’s there…Cabinet has already given guidance and certainly will look at it again,” Harmon explained.
The DG however made it clear that Government will not interfere with the day to day operations of the two entities.
He stressed, “NICIL has a board and so too does GuySuCo and from time to time the Ministers [Winston Jordan and Noel Holder] will give guidance…The boards will have to find ways of getting their work done and the ministers will give broad policy guidelines, but they will not intervene on the day to day management of these two companies.”
GuySuCo is a sore topic between the Government and the Opposition– the latter’s support base has been centered on sugar communities.
Since coming to office, the Coalition commissioned an inquiry which later saw the closure of the four estates.
The government has insisted that the industry had a bloated workforce and was a major drain on the treasury recording major losses and racking up more than $80B in debts.
Sugar prices have plunged on the world market with potential investors shying away and waiting to see the outcome of the current political situation.
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