Closure of Enmore, Rose Hall sugar estates unlikely before next year – Harmon

The closure of the Enmore and Rose Hall estates, previously slated to occur by the end of this year, is not likely until 2018, according to Minister of State Joseph Harmon.

Harmon announced last Thursday at a post-Cabinet press briefing that the Special Purpose Unit (SPU), which was set up to spearhead the divestment and privatisation of certain GuySuCo assets, still has work to do, so the process “may very well go into 2018.”

“You can’t bring something to an end and you don’t have something to take it up,” Harmon said, while assuring that workers will be paid severance where necessary, since the administration will not see workers put on the breadline without some recourse.

“Workers will be paid out in tranches,” he added.

Workers, residents and the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union have been protesting the planned closure of the estates, which is expected to significantly impact several communities.

Meanwhile, asked about the expression of interest by the Private Sector Commission in the acquisition of the Enmore, East Coast Demerara sugar estate, Harmon said that all proposals would be examined by the SPU at the appropriate time.

Under its plans to “scale down” GuySuCo, government has outlined a scheme to consolidate its operations to three estates, with three factories that would produce sugar for domestic needs and foreign markets, while divesting the company’s remaining assets, including the Skeldon Estate. Following the closure of the Wales factory at the end of last year, Enmore and Rose Hall were to be closed this year. Recently, the SPU, announced that all of GuySuCo’s assets will be valued by an international firm and a prospectus completed by the end of January next year. It was the Head of the Special Purpose Unit Colvin Heath-London, who informed through a press release that the selected tender process for an international financial services provider had closed.

The SPU’s plan comes in an effort to gear up for privatisation and/or divestment of sugar estates.

The SPU said that selected tenders were invited from PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young, Deloitte, and KPMG to provide services to the SPU as international financial services provider and that all four accounting firms had responded.

It is expected that sometime next week the firms would be notified about the winner and work should begin shortly after with the valuation of the assets and the preparation of a prospectus to be completed by the end of next January. The selected firm’s scope of works would be to undertake the valuation of all assets under the control of GuySuCo, in addition to other advisory and financial services.

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