Holder looking for candidates for new GuySuCo board

Noel Holder

Minister of Agriculture Noel Holder has started the process to identify candidates to form the new Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) board.

“The old board comes to an end at the end of this month… and, yes, I have begun the process of looking,” Holder told Stabroek News on Tuesday following a Cabinet meeting.

Minister of Finance Winston Jordan last Friday clarified that Professor Clive Thomas remains Chairman of the GuySuCo board as Cabinet had deferred a decision on a replacement.

“…The Chairman of GuySuCo is still Dr Thomas. The board of GuySuCo ends this month. In keeping with his responsibilities, Mr. Holder has to bring to the Cabinet a new board to be put in place when this one is finished,” Jordan replied at a news conference, after Colvin Heath-London, who heads the Special Purposes Unit (SPU) overseeing the divestment of some of GuySuCo’s assets, was asked if he was the Chairman by this newspaper.

While Heath-London did not go into the details of how he began acting in the capacity as substantive Chairman, he said that he was “informed” that he was the Chairman of GuySuCo. He did not say who had advised him.

Analysts say the confusion over the GuySuCo board has underlined divisions in the administration and the gross breach of established procedures.

A statement from the SPU in February had informed that the Thomas board had been dissolved by a decision by government holding company NICIL, which set up the SPU.  In addition, NICIL had instructed GuySuCo to freeze all hiring and not to renew any employee contracts.

“The life of the board of GuySuCo came to an end on February 14, after the Board of Directors of NICIL, in a Special Board Meeting, made the decision to install a new board focused on the transformation of the corporation, as envisioned by NICIL-SPU,” the statement said

“The NICIL board also instructed GuySuCo to freeze all hiring and to not renew any employee contracts that are expiring at this time. NICIL has begun working with the management team at the corporation to implement management changes, some of these changes are already being implemented and more are expected to follow in the coming weeks,” it added.

In an advertisement published on March 14th, NICIL identified Health-London as the Chairman and listed eight other members of what it said would be an 11-member board. The advertisement carried brief bios and photos of the new board members, who were listed as Fritz McLean, Komal Singh, Arianne McLean, George Jervis, Verna Adrian, Vishnu Panday, Roshan Khan Jr and Annette Arjoon. The two other members, the advertisement explained, would be GuySuCo executives, who would be named when their appointments are confirmed.

Minister of State Joseph Harmon would later explain that despite the advertisement, a decision was still to be made, and when it had been made it would follow the procedural requirements, such as being announced by Cabinet and being published in the Official Gazette.

But letters of appointments had been given to the new board members and filings were made at the Deeds Registry to reflect the change.

Despite those developments, this newspaper understands that the current board will serve its term after which “due processes will take its course.”

“It is not a matter to be flustered about. Processes were followed according to directives given by those in authority, when it was believed that the entire Cabinet made the decision. That was not the case and corrective measures and processes are being taken, okay… that is to say due process will take its course, the life of the old board will come to an end, procedural changes will be made at the registry after which other changes will be made and you will see a new GuySuCo Board,” one official, who did not want to be named, said.

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