Company admits to negotiating lease long before partner’s incorporation
Taking away lands from fired sugar workers
…as confusion swirls over who holds lease
After promising fired Wales Sugar Estate workers to make lands available to them in order for them to be self-sufficient, a huge part of the estate has been leased out for coconut farming under questionable negotiations.Incidentally, Extra Virgin Coconut Products (EVCP) and Amazonia Expert Services Incorporated (AESI), two companies who recently received 680 acres of land, have admitted that EVCP negotiated the lease long before the latter company even existed.
This would raise questions over the role being played by the new company and what plans could have convinced the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) to sign the lease. It also contradicts earlier statements in the press.
“The Amazonia Expert Services Inc (AESI), a company registered under the Laws of Guyana, and launched on Monday, November 4, 2019, and the Extra Virgin Coconut Products (EVCP) wish to clarify an erroneous report which stated that a lease was consummated between the two-month-old company, AESI, and the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited,” the partners said in a statement.
“The companies wish to state clearly that the lease was negotiated and consummated between EVCP, which was registered on November 12, 2015, and NICIL, for approximately 680 acres of land at the closed Wales Sugar Estate, West Demerara, to establish a coconut production and processing facility,” they added.
The older company also insisted that it has been involved in previous agricultural initiatives, specifically in the coconut sector. According to the company, it is known to State organisations related to the sector.“EVCP has been involved in two previous initiatives related to the coconut sector in Guyana and is known to the relevant institutions, including the New Guyana Marketing Corporation (NGMC).”“The lease, which had been under negotiation for nearly two years, was settled in the fourth quarter of 2018 and signed on February 1, 2019.”
It was recently reported in sections of the media that the land, part of the now closed Wales Sugar Estate, was leased to the partners for them to enter the coconut industry. According to principal at AESI, Dr Arlington Chesney, the company wants the land to process coconut water, as well as dried and grated coconut, for the Dominican market.
“We have been given a lease for the land and we are in the process of getting a lease for the processing facility,” Chesney, who was identified in the media as part of AESI and not EVCP, had said on the sidelines of an event a few days ago.
Back in 2017, Government had announced plans to close the Enmore and Rose Hall Sugar Estates, sell the Skeldon Sugar Factory, reduce the annual production of sugar, and take on the responsibility of managing the drainage and irrigation services offered by GuySuCo.
Subsequently, in November of that year, GuySuCo announced plans to retrench 2500 workers by the end of that year. Amid much criticism, over 7000 were retrenched, with some having to fight for the severance they were legally entitled to.
Government then established the Special Purpose Unit (SPU) under the National Industrial and Commercial Investment Limited (NICIL) to take over the divestment of GuySuCo’s assets that were earmarked for sale.
The SPU then recruited PricewaterhouseCoopers to conduct a valuation of the assets to be privatised and divested. It is understood, however, that with the Government in a caretaker status after losing a No-Confidence Motion last year that the process has been suspended.
With Wales Estate also being closed, and some workers being given the option of transferring to Uitvlugt, there has been much interest in the land left behind, particularly for farmers. In fact, earlier this year, land from the Wales Sugar Estate was snapped up by local and overseas farmers and over a thousand acres of that land was put under rice cultivation.
In 2017, almost a year after the estate was closed down, the Government had claimed that decision to offer the land to the fired workers was to have them employed in feasible alternative ventures.