Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha has disclosed that some $400 million has been earmarked for the relocation of the Guyana Sugar Corporation’s (GuySuCo) Packaging Plant to Albion in Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne).
He was at the time responding to a question from the APNU/AFC Opposition Member of Parliament, Tabitha Sarabo-Halley, during Thursday’s sitting of the National Assembly.
“In this year’s Budget, $400 million has been allocated to commence the movement of the plant… to Albion and we will have a bigger and much [more] modernised plant at Albion to cater for more production of sugar in GuySuCo,” the Minister indicated.
The GuySuCo Packaging Plant is being relocated from Enmore, East Coast Demerara, where the facility there is being transformed into a modern oilfield service centre and manufacturing facility.
Back in February, it was disclosed that the Government leased the packaging facility to local company Guysons Engineering, which has partnered with US-based K+B Industries to form the GK+B Joint Venture that will be establishing the Enmore Manufacturing Facility to cater to the oil and gas sector.
As part of the agreement, the company will have to retain all the workers of the packaging plant and conduct training so that they can be absorbed into the new operations – something which the workers have previously lauded.
According to Minister Mustapha, the new packaging plant at Albion, which will cost approximately $1.9 billion and is a multi-year project, will cater to the production of more packaged sugar which is currently in demand locally.
In recent weeks, there had been an apparent shortage of packaged sugar in Guyana but GuySuCo has since ramped up production activities thus making several thousands of bag sugar and packaged sugar available for local consumption.
The Enmore Packaging Plant was shut down under the previous APNU/AFC Coalition regime and was restarted in October 2020 by the PPP/C Government.
During Thursday’s sitting, MP Sarabo-Halley asked about the monies spent on the facility since it’s opening and why the current administration did not opt to use the monies spent over the past two years at Enmore and inject it into the new facility instead. Mustapha clarified that the expenses from 2020 to April of this year had to do with operational expenses and not on the packaging facility itself.
“The money was not used to enhance or expand the plant at Enmore. The money was used for two things – material cost and employment cost. In the planning and restructuring of GuySuCo, we’ve decided to move the plant to Albion because Albion is the premier estate in this country [right now] and it’s earmarked to produce more sugar or the largest amount of sugar in our country.”
“That is the reason we are moving the plant from Enmore to Albion… and we have not used a cent to do enhancement work or expansion work on the plant,” Mustapha contended.
Nevertheless, the Minister further disclosed in the National Assembly that in 2020, some $4.59 million was expended from October to December that year. This includes $1.56 million in salaries for 42 workers who were rehired to work at the plant and $3.03 million in material costs.
The full 2021 year saw another $94.95 million being spent at the packaging plant of which $47.99 million was for employment costs and $46.9 million for material costs. From January to April this year, a total of $16.28 million were expended with $15.8 million being for employment cost, $0.39 million for material cost, and $0.01 million for outside costs.
As part of the transition of the workers from the Enmore Packaging facility, the Government, in addition to securing their jobs, also gave the workers a two-month bonus to assist them during the period.
Guysons K+B Industries has committed to investing in the people of the East Coast Corridor, plugging an “unmatched” US$37.5 million (GY$7.5 billion) to establish the Enmore Manufacturing Plant, a state-of-the-art Oilfield Services facility.
The company clarified that its lease is for the Enmore Packaging Facility and not the Sugar Estate – a site that was recommended by the government.
The packing facility is approximately 100,000 sq. feet and its transformation would take an estimated 18 to 24 months. GKB said the Packaging Plant can be repurposed and become operational, almost immediately, preserving jobs currently held at the Plant, with a guarantee of 150 employees by end of the first year and 500 in five years.
According to the company, a minimum of 50 acres of land is required to effectively deliver OCTG (oil country tubular goods) and Premium Accessory Services to the local oil and gas sector. These services are currently being outsourced to Trinidad and Tobago, United States, and other countries.
It further noted that it has agreed to strict land development timelines and milestones over the first three years that will be monitored as the phased development occurs.