Buyer already identified for Skeldon Factory – GAWU head

Three months after Government announced major policy changes in the sugar industry — one of which was to privatise the Skeldon Sugar Factory — the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) is claiming that a purchaser may have already been identified for the Skeldon factory.
GAWU President Komal Chand has reminded that assurances were given by the Government that certain procedures would guide the sale of that factory. This, he said, has led to the creation of a Special Purpose Unit within the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL).
“We have information that a buyer has already been identified (to purchase the Skeldon Estate), despite the fact that there is a procedure to see which buyer might be more fitting, or what is considered ‘the best’,” Chand said.
During consideration of the first Financial Paper for 2017 — in early July — Government requested the supplementary sum of $130 million to subsidize creation of this Special Purpose Unit. The Financial Paper had detailed that the amount requested included provision for employment costs, utilities, professional and legal fees, advertisements, operating supplies, furniture and equipment.
The GAWU head has said that although this (finding a buyer) was expected, the mere request for a financial sum to create this special unit had caused him to hope that a fairer system would have been employed in disposing of the Skeldon Estate — one that would see the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) getting the best possible deal.
While admitting that the Skeldon Sugar Factory had not performed as anticipated in its initial stages of operation, the Opposition believes it is an unwise decision to put the factory up for sale, as it has shown some signs of improved performance.
The Opposition has said performance at the factory has significantly improved in 2015, and the factory had met all its targets. However, they blame the decline in recent performance at the factory on the lack of investment on the part of the coalition Government.
It was revealed in January that a close relative of Prime Minister and First Vice President Moses Nagamootoo was reportedly working to bring in investors for the cash-strapped sugar industry.
Tony Joseph, Managing Director of Sunrise Holdings and son-in-law of Nagamootoo, led a team of Indian investors to dialogue with Government on potential investments in GuySuCo.
The Skeldon Sugar Factory alone, located on the Estate, is worth US$200 million, and the total value of the Estate would amount to billions of Guyana dollars.