Head of the Sugar Special Purpose Unit (SPU), through a press statement, advised that the body was seeking to engage a reputable firm to value the sugar industry’s assets. That valuation, he went on to say, would form the basis of a prospectus that would allow investors to know what’s available and what it is valued at.
But what is amiss about this whole convolution is that expressions of interest have already been invited. In fact, the SPU head in the press statement said that the request for proposals has been extended by about three weeks. So then how is it that a valuation is yet to be done but interested parties are asked to show their desire to acquire assets? From a layman’s perspective, the cart has clearly been put before the horse.
But the hiring of a reputable firm to value sugar’s assets is a faux pas. The GuySuCo top leadership, possibly with the acquesicence of those who really control and direct it, have irresponsibly allowed the running down of its assets.
Thus, whenever the valuators are identified and would have completed their task they will naturally come up with a value that is really not reflective of the realistic value of the asset. We cannot fail to miss that it is these valuations which will determine the final prices and strengthens suspicions that the people’s assets will be sold cheaply.
And, too, the SPU head made a telling admission. We are told that the sugar company has foregone profits as it provides several services which benefit the country. The SPU may want to say how is it that these services will be provided in the circumstances of changed ownership? It seems to me that the Treasury will have to pick up the tab, meaning further pressures will be placed on the backs of the working people.
The SPU mandate, in my view, is gravely misplaced. Rather than looking at the prospect of selling, quite possibly at dirt cheap prices, the sugar industry’s assets, the GuySuCo should convince the Government to have the Unit adopt another course, that is; to package projects, to diversify and sustain the sugar industry and to seek private capital to realise those initiatives.
Sugar, I believe like many other Guyanese, has a future but, political spite, as many believe too, rather than economic prudence has been the sad approach adopted towards the industry.