Tony Joseph wanted to help out of pureness of heart – PM


… sees “nothing wrong” with arrangement

Prime Minister and First Vice President Moses Nagamootoo on Friday announced that his son-in-law Tony Joseph sought to assist to find investors for the cash-strapped Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) out of the pureness of his heart.

Nagamootoo’s son-in-law, Tony Joseph, a businessman, is currently encouraging investors to meet with Government officials to deliberate on possible plans for the local industry, in keeping with the coalition’s intentions to either privatise or diversify the sugar company.Moses

The Prime Minister told the media on Friday that indeed he had made the suggestion to his son-in-law to liaise with potential investors for GuySuCo.

“He just listened to the Prime Minister in India saying bring some investors to help the crippled sugar industry and he did… I met him in Delhi (India) where there was a Rotary club meeting, I met him with the High Commissioner, he went there on his own business and I met with all the business people. He asked me to go to a dinner and everyone wants to come to Guyana… they want to even form a Guyana/New Delhi Friendship Society and I said, ‘listen Tony, get a list of all who wants to invest in Guyana, coordinate with our High Commissioner and see if you can make contact (with Ministries)’,” Nagamootoo explained.

But the Prime Minister believes there is nothing amiss about such an arrangement, insisting that his son-in-law embarked upon this venture out of the pureness of his heart.

“This issue is not about the Prime Minister’s son-in-law. This issue is about a businessman, a credible successful businessman who has decided that he will bring investors to Guyana wherever he can find them. He’s a Guyanese, he is a Berbician and he wants to help Guyana,” Nagamootoo told Guyana Times when questioned about the swirling conflict of interest and nepotism concerns on the matter.

In fact, Nagamootoo expressed that the entire nation should thank his son-in-law for the interest he has demonstrated in helping the country’s ailing sugar industry.

“The nation should thank him… in fact I am so proud of him,” Nagamootoo expressed.

Representatives of Srinath Ispat Limited, an India-based company with extensive knowledge of the sugar industry, are expected in Guyana this week to have dialogue with Government on potential investments in GuySuCo.

The Agriculture Ministry last week announced that the delegation would be led by President of Integrated Casetech Consultants PV T LTD, Rajesh Kumar Agarwal and Managing Director of Sunrise Holdings, Tony Joseph. They would visit the country’s major sugar estates before meeting with several key Government officials, including the Prime Minister.

The businessman is married to Prime Minister Nagamootoo’s daughter Angela, something which Government failed to disclose when it made the announcement.

Joseph currently heads a freight forwarding company, Joseph Pack-n-Ship in Muscatine, Iowa. Back in October 2015, Prime Minister Nagamootoo had participated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Greater Muscatine Chamber of Commerce and Industry at Joseph Pack-N-Ship.

Meanwhile, Government continues to entertain such interest from investors as it faces major decisions on the future of the local sugar industry.

To this end, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed with Trinidadian company D Rampersad and Company Limited (DRCL) for the undertaking of a feasibility study. The agreement will see the company likely to rake in major benefits from the Guyana Government, including favourable tax incentives for the development of an integrated sugarcane processing facility at the Skeldon Sugar Estate.

The Skeldon Sugar Factory, which is located on the estate, alone is worth US$200 million, so the total value of the Estate would amount to billions.

Meanwhile, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo believes that Government’s talks about wanting consultations with stakeholders are perfunctory.

According to the former President, Government seems to already have preconceived ideas about the future of the sugar industry and the consultations they are requesting are just smokescreens.

This, he said, is evident when the Government requested a meeting with the Opposition Leader and the workers unions only after it entered into a MoU with the Trinidadian firm. (Guyana Times)



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