A cash-strapped Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo), by the end of today (Thursday), is expected to conclude the sale of large portions of land in order to meet with its immediate G$2B requirements to, in part, meet wages and salaries.
The sale is being executed between the Corporation and the Government’s Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA).
The sale of the lands was confirmed by Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, who, on Thursday, in providing a Post Cabinet briefing, told media operatives that the matter had been ventilated by the Council of Ministers which met on Tuesday last and was chaired by Prime Minister, performing the duties of President, Moses Nagamootoo.
Minister Harmon reported that the decision was taken following a Cabinet deliberation focused on the financial position of the sugar corporation which was presented by Minister within the Ministry of Finance, Jaipaul Sharma.
According to Minster Harmon, “Cabinet considered the report and authorised the Minster to assist with the management of GuySuCo with their ongoing discussions with Central Housing and Planning Authority to finalise the sale of lands and to facilitate payments for such lands to GuySuCo urgently.”
Minster Harmon, when questioned by this publication, conceded that the G$2B to be raised by GuySuCo by selling off some of its lands will not be enough to meet the requirements of the corporation and indicated the entity will require more money before the end of the year.
He told media operatives “GuySuCo requires more monies, this is an emergency intervention…as you know, sale of lands was always a part of the diversification process of GuySuCo.”
According to Minister Harmon, there was a request for G$2B and assured that the monies to be had through CH&PA would cover this request.
“Government has suggested that Junior Finance Minister assist CH&PA pay for lands which have been identified,” Harmon disclosed.
He explained that the lands will now be put under the purview of the Central Housing & Planning Authority and “will be available to the Guyanese public.”
The Minister was at the time unable to identify precisely where the lands identified for sale are located except to say, “those are matters which are within discussions of GuySuCo and CH&PA but what I can say is that the G$2B will be made available.”
He told media operatives the transaction between CH&PA and GuySuCo, with the assistance of the Junior Finance Minister—currently acting in the substantive position—“will be completed on Thursday.”
The financial state of affairs at the corporation had reached a point where there had been significant delays in payments of wages and salaries.
This, among other factors, led to an emergency meeting on Monday last ahead of the Cabinet meeting with Prime Minister Nagamootoo, GuySuCo’s Chairman of the Board of Directors, Clive Thomas and Chief Executive Officer, Errol Hanoman, to discuss “urgent cash flow relative to wages, salaries and other payments at GuySuCo.”
Meanwhile, as part of the ongoing divestment of the assets belonging to the beleaguered GuySuCo, Minister Harmon also announced that Colvin Keith-London has been appointed as head of the Special Purpose Unit (SPU).
That unit has been tasked with the divestment of GuySuCo’s assets inclusive of its lands, and according to Harmon, Keith-London will be based at the Kingston Headquarters for the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL).
That unit was first announced by Agriculture Minister Noel Holder, when in recent months he presented a Policy Paper to the National Assembly on the future of the sugar industry.
That unit was allocated some G$130M “to provide for the establishment of a Special Purpose Unit to manage the reform of the sugar industry” when the Government in July last requested a Supplementary request to tap the national coffers. The National Assembly has since approved the monies for the unit.