Latest update March 31st, 2023 12:59 AM
Mar 08, 2022 News
Kaieteur News –
By Shervin Belgrave
President Mohamed Irfaan Ali believes that if he was running a private corporation, such as the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo), he would have been given incentives and bonuses by its board of directors for scrapping a project like the U$S12.5M Enmore Packaging Plant located on the East Coast of Demerara (ECD), and spending more money to build a new one at Albion, Berbice, Region Six.
At least this is what the president told reporters at a press conference he held on Sunday.
His government on February 16, last had included the packaging plant in a 55-acre land deal it made with a 52 percent owned Guyanese joint-venture, Guysons K+B Industries Inc. According to reports, the company acquired the US$12.5M plant, owned by GuySuCo, on a long-term lease from the government and intends to transform the facility from its original use – to package sugar – into a manufacturing hub to support the oil sector.
However, just days before the deal was signed, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of GuySuCo, Sasenarine Singh, announced in an online interview, that plans are being made to build a new packaging plant at Albion, along with the expansion of one at Blairmont for 2022 in order to increase the country’s packaging capacity for sugar.
Kaieteur News had reported in a recent article that many observers held the view that if it is the government’s aim to increase the country’s packaging capability, why would it scrap the operation of the Enmore facility, only to spend millions more then establish another. Observers thought it would be prudent for the government to keep the Enmore packaging facility while adding Albion and Blairmont to the mix. The situation has left many industry analysts perplexed.
However, the president does not want to admit that his government is actually scrapping the plant to build a new one so he has decided to call it a relocation of the Enmore Packaging Plant.
His exact words at Sunday’s press conference were, “the packaging plant (Enmore Packaging Plant) is not closed, the packaging plant is part of a strategy and is moving to Berbice; it’s moving to Albion.”
The “strategy” to spend another set of millions to move the packaging plant to Berbice, according Ali, is just to create more employment in that area and assist in achieving his government’s election campaign promise to create some 50,000 jobs.
According to the president, “The Enmore Packaging Plant is not closed. Let me make it clear. The facility at Enmore will be used. It will be used to sustain all those jobs and expand opportunities for the East Coast corridor because the East Coast corridor is linked to the industrialisation and manufacturing that is taking place, but no jobs will be lost so I don’t know what is this fanciful argument some people are coming up with in their heads.”
He said too, his government’s move will benefit the country by saying, “We are not selling out any assets we are catalyzing the assets. There is a difference. You can’t have dead assets, idle assets.”
However, in doing so, the president might have indirectly admitted that the US$12.5M Enmore Packaging Plant was becoming a “dead” and “idle” asset and in order to keep his government’s promise that it will revitalise the sugar industry, it is now seeking to take a risk by investing more money to build a similar plant in Berbice hoping it will be viable there.
Ali is of the view that his plan to do so, that is “to move the Enmore Packaging Plant to Berbice,” would have gained him “bonuses” and “incentives” if he was working for a corporation.
He said, “You know the funny thing is that if I was running a corporation, the board of directives would have given me as an incentive because you are creating more jobs, you are creating more revenue stream and you are expanding opportunities. The discussion in that would have been how do we give the persons who did this a bonus.”
As Ali moves ahead with his plan, the joint-venture, GKB, will be transforming the Enmore facility into a manufacturing hub to make profits from Guyana’s emerging oil and gas sector. In addition to the plant, the company also cashed in on some 50 acres of prime lands that surround the plant and plans to invest some US$37.7M to create a state-of-the-art oilfield services facility.
A statement from the company noted that a minimum of 50 acres of land is required to effectively deliver OCTG and Premium Accessory Services to the Oil and Gas Sector and for this, GKB engaged the government. GKB had said it proposed a site closer to port facilities in Georgetown but saw merit in the “government’s recommendation of Enmore.”
Importantly, GKB had made it known that its lease is for the Enmore packaging facility, not the sugar estate, which is approximately 100,000 sq. feet.
In a February 17, 2021 report, Kaieteur News reported that the financial arrangement between the government and GKB for the lands and the US$12.5M packaging plant is still being negotiated.
GKB’s Chief Executive Office, Fazil Khan told this newspaper that negotiations are still ongoing between the two parties and assured that Guyana will get a fair deal.
Khan did reveal however, that an agreement was reached for his company to purchase 25 acres of the land, lease another 25 and also lease the packaging plant on a long-term lease.
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