… will lead to more being placed on the breadline – economic activist
The clandestinely inked Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) based D Rampersaud and Company Limited (DRCL), to pursue the possible development of an ‘Integrated Sugar Cane Processing Facility’ at the Skeldon Sugar Estate, reeks of political involvement, rife with dishonesty on the part of the ruling Administration and will lead to more persons being placed on the breadline, if pursued as proposed.
Dr Peter Ramsaroop, who also functions as the Economic Advisor to the
Opposition, gave this dire analysis of the project as guided by the provisions of the MoU and points too to the clandestine nature of the transaction with a company that has no experience in the sugar industry.
Car parts dealer
In fact, Dr Ramsaroop speaking to Guyana Times following its exposure of the deal inked in December last with DRCL and the Guyana Office for Investment (GO-Invest) said, “D Rampersaud and Company Limited have no past performance on any of the components in the MoU. The most they have is in repair of power generation equipment.”
The company’s website asserts a five decade history not in the sugar or any of its related industries, but rather in automotive and automotive accessories – meaning cars and car parts.
The political activist and local businessman observed too that, “the company is basically a Trinidadian auto parts company that is diverted into engineering over the years.”
Notably too is the fact that the local witness to the MoU is none other than a local car dealer in the person of proprietor of Auto Fashions Store Noel Rupie Shewjattan of Garnett Street, Campbellville, Georgetown.
In an invited comment, Dr Ramsaroop questioned “how can Go-Invest sign such a MoU with a company to look at sugar production, make rum or ethanol, etc in Guyana… The last time any Trinidadian company managed sugar was in 2007 when the industry was abolished and thousands were out of work.”
Guyana Times this past week broke the news of the secret deal inked between GO-Invest and the Trinidadian-based company to pursue a project to realise power generation, ethanol production, rum production, solar power production, and construction of liquid bulk terminal – all utilising the US$200 million Modern Skeldon Sugar Factory, inclusive of all of its assets and cane lands.
Dr Ramsaroop said that the MoU is a monumental failure on the part of GO-Invest – Guyana’s premier Government agency to solicit and accommodate Foreign and local direct investment.
He has since chided the approach taken by Government with regards the Skeldon Sugar Factory – a project which to date represents the single largest investment made by any Administration locally.
Dr Ramsaroop, in seeking to bring home the point of the company’s complete lack of experience for the proposed task, questioned “where it is that this company has or had anything to do with Sugar, Rum, Power Production or Fuel Grade Ethanol experience?”
A search of the company’s Chaguanas, Trinidad and Tobago headquarters, boasts of a third generation family business established about 50 years ago, initially providing a wide range of automotive parts and associated engineering services.
Calling for an integrated approach towards the resuscitation of the of the sugar industry in Guyana, Dr Ramsaroop noted that the coalition A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Administration is without a plan “with their best bet being to give away the US$200 million Skeldon Sugar Factory to a company that has no skills.”
This approach, he warned, was part of a revenge campaign by the ruling Administration against sugar workers placing them on “the breadline, since most of them did not support them… Political revenge is not the way to go here.”
He noted that under the ousted People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Administration, the plan was to invest in a more refine sugar approach to the value added sugar crystals that are in more demand around the world and move to ethanol production by 2016.
Ramsaroop, a long-time advocate of biofuels said, “We would have seen more jobs being created as we expanded the sugar industry not shut it down. Brazil is the second largest producer of fuel grade ethanol… The PPP/C planned also called for an integrated approach by building the deep water harbour and the road to Brazil… These integrated approaches would have seen Guyana propel with the sugar industry,” the Economic Advisor told Guyana Times.
According to the MoU inked between the Guyana Government and DRCL, the Trinidad-based company is slated to benefit substantially, should its proposal be approved by the Administration.
The MoU – while not legally binding – dictates expectations in the event a definitive agreement, including access by DCRL to Skeldon Sugar Factory’s key infrastructure, favourable combinations of tax incentives, and land for sugarcane cultivation and infrastructure.
The company is also set to receive reasonable approval cycles, guarantees on minimum product take-off by the Government with respect to electric power and fuel ethanol, guaranteed pricing formulae and power export provisions.
This means that while the company will convert sugar cane into ethanol and electricity from bagasse, the Government will guarantee purchase of the powered generated at a yet to be negotiated price – inherently providing and immediate and guaranteed market for the company should the operations come on stream.
The feasibility study is proposed to commence on April 3 and to be completed in the coming months.