Unions say privatisation possible option for sugar industry – Minister Harmon

DPI, GUYANA, Friday, January 26, 2018

State Minister Joseph Harmon, at a post-Cabinet press conference today, explained that during the meeting between Government and the two Unions representing the sugar workers, the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) and the National Association of Agricultural, Commercial and Industrial Employees (NAACIE) several proposals were made, which the Unions believe can return the industry to viability.

Minister of State, Mr. Joseph Harmon.

The infusion of private capital through partnerships, the issuance of bonds and other investment tools and funding through the Guyana Green State Development Strategy (GSDS) were some of the measures highlighted by the Unions.

Minister Harmon said that “they [Unions] agreed that privatisation was an option to be pursued but advised that maximum value should be sought for the assets through the sale of estates as growing concerns and that the right of sugar workers must be guaranteed under any new arrangements within the industry”.

Government is exploring the possibility of providing lands to retrenched sugar workers for agricultural purposes.

However, he clarified that the lands will be allocated in a structured way following valuation of GuySuCo’s assets.  The valuation is currently ongoing by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Meanwhile, the State Minister explained that Government, in the White Paper on the Sugar Industry, which was laid in the National Assembly, made it clear that the “New GuySuCo” will be a three-estate entity along with the related facilities and that the other identified estates would be placed for divestment.

“Those estates which do not form part of the three-estate operation of GuySuCo and the assets, have been placed under the stewardship of the NICIL and an entity established under NICIL called the Special Purposes Unit (SPU).”

He noted further that “the SPU now has superintendence of those matters which are not part of the three-estate new GuySuCo… The GuySuCo that remains with the three estates will certainly need to have the management and the board addressed”.

Government is now awaiting information that will allow it to make certain decisions related to the management structure of the “New GuySuCo.’

Minister Harmon assured that with the provision of this information Government will be able to make a public statement on the matter within a short time.

 

By: Stacy Carmichael

 

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