Bids for privatisation of sugar estates opened

– Names of bidders to be released tomorrow

– 10 envelopes opened yesterday

– Bids are being analysed

– Estates to remain in cane industry

DPI, Guyana, Thursday, November 1, 2018

Several bids for the privatisation of the Enmore, Skeldon and Rose Hall estates have been received. The consultants hired to oversee the privatisation, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), opened the bids yesterday.

Managing Director of PwC, Wilfred Baghaloo said 10 envelopes were publicly opened after the bidding process closed yesterday afternoon.

Managing Director of PwC Wilfred Baghaloo.

PwC was hired by the Special Purpose Unit (SPU) under the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL). The SPU is tasked with divesting the assets of the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo).

At a press conference hosted today, at NICIL’s Camp Street Office, Baghaloo explained that evaluation of the bids will seek to ensure they comply with the evaluation criteria set out in the Information Memorandums (IM) which were sold.

A large portion of that criteria – 70 per cent – is technical while the financials make up the remaining percentage (100 per cent points system). “We expect from them a development plan and they need to tell us that development plan and how fast they will implement it,” he explained.

Baghaloo made clear the primary objective of the privatisation of the three sugar estates is to ensure they are operated by qualified, experienced, and well-structured companies.

However, he noted that the prospective company is mandated to keep the lands in the cane industry. “Not necessarily the sugar industry. We can use the cane for many things … That’s for the bidders to decide what they want to do,” Baghaloo noted.

PwC was hired in March of this year and began extensive advertising of the estates in July. Bids for the three estates were advertised in Jamaica, Barbados, Belize, Guyana, international sugar journals and PwC’s international network among other avenues.

A total of 12 IMs was sold during the marketing process at the cost of US$1,000. A pre-bid meeting was held with potential investors in September. Bidders raised concerns relating to regulations needed to ensure fair competition, the functionality of the factories and access to markets served by GuySuCo, Baghaloo pointed out.

At the close of the bids 10 envelopes were opened, however, Baghaloo noted this does not necessarily mean that there were 10 bidders. He noted the government is not bound to accept any of the bids and the process can be reopened. “We’re pleased with the level of response that we’ve received.”

He was not prepared to disclose who the bidders were but noted a majority of the bids were local with one international bidder. He gave assurances that PwC will relapse the names of the bidders and where their company is incorporated, tomorrow.

PwC will take maximum 30 days to evaluate the bids after which it will make recommendations to the SPU’s Steering Committee and NICIL who will then make the necessary recommendations to Cabinet.

The government moved to downsize the sugar industry to make GuySuCo more efficient. The downsizing saw the amalgamation of some estates and factories and the divestment of others.

The end result saw GuySuCo consisting of three estates and sugar factories. The estates, complete with factories, are Blairmount in the West Bank Berbice, Albion-Rose Hall in East Berbice and the Uitvlugt-Wales estate in West Demerara.

The downsize also saw sugar workers being retrenched. Some workers have since benefited from retraining. It is expected that the estates up for privatisation will absorb sugar workers that have been retrenched.

Tiffny Rhodius.

Image by Terrance Thompson.

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