Approximately 1000 acres of land sold to CH&PA for development – NICIL
Divestment of GuySuCo
…Opposition calls for full disclosure of deals
The National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) since it took over the privatisation process for the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) has sold approximately 1000 acres of land to the housing authorities.
This was revealed by NICIL’s Special Purpose Unit (SPU) Head Colvin Heath-London, during a press conference. According to Heath-London, the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) received almost 300 acres as recent as a month ago.
“We have given Central Housing and Planning in excess of 500 acres (of land),” Heath-London explained. “Up to recently, a month ago, we gave them close to 300 acres – so in excess of 1000 acres.”
Meanwhile, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic has called for full disclosure of the deals with regards to the sales of land.
According to Heath-London, the Rose Hall Estate (another of the estates being divested) has in excess of 4000 hectares of land. A total of 20,000 hectares of land are to be divested from all the estates.
“GuySuCo, in their recapitalisation plan, had prescribed a certain acreage of non-arable land – land that was not in sugar cane production – to be sold to garner the funding for their recapitalisation. These lands are separate from those lands in production” he noted.
“As you are aware, most of the land on the coast of Guyana once belonged to the Sugar Corporation and most of those lands were taken for housing projects. So these lands are to be sold and a lot of these lands that Central Housing and Planning has allocated are former GuySuCo lands. So we presently sell these lands to Central Housing, for their projects.”
Heath-London further explained that land around the estates being divested would not be sold to investors but would be leased based on their production needs. At present, a consortium of investors from Guyana, Ghana and India are strong contenders for the Rose Hall estate.
“The agricultural land around the three estates will remain the property of the people of Guyana. And these lands will be leased to the investors to provide for their production needs. The factories and the land surrounding the factories, in most cases 15 to 20 acres, will be sold in some arrangement with these investors to engender some longevity.
“We don’t want to enter into arrangements with investors who will take the assets and then, in a few months or years, shove the assets down. So we’re looking for investors in it for the long haul,” he explained.
A few days ago, Director General of the Ministry of the Presidency, Joseph Harmon had revealed that Government planned to set up a committee to oversee the sale of the sugar lands. Harmon had noted that with the valuation completed, the process has started to facilitate the sale of the Sugar Corporation’s lands that are no longer needed by the “new GuySuCo”.
“We’ve had to establish a State’s Land Sales Committee that will ensure there is transparency in the disposal of these assets, because, in our modern history, this will be the largest transfer of assets by the State to the Private Sector,” he revealed.
According to the Government spokesperson, it is important to ensure that all the processes are transparent and open so that no one can question the process and say one buyer benefited more than another.
“So that is being done right and that activity for the sale of lands that are not going to be part of the new GuySuCo will commence very shortly,” Harmon said.
The sale of these lands is intended to raise money to sustain the downsized sugar industry, which only has three estates operating and is still facing financial troubles.
Previously, GuySuCo had sold a portion of its lands to the CH&PA and according to President David Granger on Friday, he has instructed that the agency purchase more lands to facilitate Government’s housing drive.
“Some lands will be coming out of sugar… But when those lands become available, I’ve asked Central Housing and Planning Authority [and] the Minister of Communities (Ronald Bulkan) to put in a bid for lands for low-income settlements,” the Head of State told residents on the East Bank of Demerara during a visit.