Over 1,000 sugar workers re-employed – GuySuCo Chairman
…says another 200 to be re-engaged, agreement with DDL for molasses implementedBy Samuel SukhnandanWhile it remains impossible for everyone to be re-employed by the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo), there are immediate plans to rehire some 1200 workers in various categories at the remaining estates.This disclosure was made by Head of the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited’s (NICIL’s) Special Purpose Unit (SPU), Colvin Heath-London, who told this newspaper in an exclusive interview that this move is being made asGuySuCo Chairman, Colvin Heath-Londonthe divestment plans continue to take shape.“The SPU operations, in conjunction with GuySuCo, will be able to employ directly and indirectly in excess of 1000 people. In the following weeks, we will have additional employment at Enmore and SPU estates, around 200 factory workers, harvesting and agriculture staff,” he explained.But what is also driving this re-employment initiative is that GuySuCo, through the SPU, now has to deliver on an agreement signed with Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL) to produce molasses.Heath-London explained that the alcohol industry in the entire Caribbean is in a predicament because of the hectic hurricane season experienced last year and previous years before that.“A lot of plants in the region have been damaged, and also GuySuCo provided most of the molasses for these plants in the region. With us closing the three estates, we basically cut the raw material source for a lot of plants in the Caribbean. It also puts DDL in a crisis mode where it needed raw material,” he stated.DDL and the SPU entered into an agreement wherein DDL is to advance the SPU in a collaborative effort to produce the molasses that it wants. DDL has a shortfall that exceeds 27,000 tonnes of molasses.Heath-London said, “We are hoping, from our operations at both Enmore and Skeldon, that we will be able to fulfil this gap. DDL will be advancing the cost for the molasses production, which we collectively used to do the production.”The SPU is also tasked with finding investors for the three estates closed last year, as well as Wales Estate, which stopped grinding at the end of 2016. There are over 70 expressions of interest for the three closed estates.PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC), which is critically involved in the privatization and divestment process of the sugar industry, is mainly responsible for the valuation of all GuySuCo assets.The SPU head said that while PwC is a little ahead of its schedule, the unit is currently preparing the information memo to send out to prospective investors and ask them to send fixed proposals.“We have already gone ahead and started to sell as real estate the staff compound at Wales Estate. I must say it was oversubscribed. We were heartened by the response that the market gave,” he said.The privatization process, according to Heath-London, is well on stream, with several major agro- and agriculture-based companies showing serious interest in the Wales Estate.It has been recently reported that, through the Chamber of Commerce in Delhi, India, several Indian companies have indicated interest in investing in the local sugar industry, or acquiring assets therein.The SPU has also been able to secure a syndicated bond worth $30 billion to assist with the revitalisation of GuySuCo. Heath-London said the loan has been acquired at good rates, with several banks participating. The Trinidad-owned Republic Bank is the major lender.The idea behind the borrowing of this syndicated bond is to assist the SPU with the reopening of the estates, to facilitate providing proof to potential investors that the estates are viable.Some 4000 sugar workers from Enmore, Rose Hall and Skeldon were dismissed from their jobs following the downsizing of the sugar industry, which began to take effect in late 2017.