The Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) is warning of an intended sale of certain assets belonging to the Skeldon estate by the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) Special Purpose Unit (NICIL-SPU).
Through newspaper advertisements announcing the sale, the union learnt of the sale of ‘unserviceable’ motor vehicles and motorcycles.
The union said it has raised concerns about previous sales of movable items from the sugar estates which appear to have been sold at “basement prices”.
The sugar union is arguing that the very assets could have been divested at superior prices.
The union is also unsure whether the sale prices resembled the valuation carried out on the assets.
Even on the scrap iron sales, the union holds the same view that higher prices could have been affixed, positing that one buyer who bought the assets from the Wales factory made a considerable profit.
The union is calling on the Government to ensure that the sale of the sugar assets is transparent and above reproach.
It said that it had observed in the state newspaper that an SPU officer disclosed that about 511 acres of former cane lands are now under rice cultivation.
That officer also, according to GAWU, said that one investor already has 116.7 acres of rice to harvest, and another rice farmer has 438 acres.
The union is questioning who the lands at Wales have been leased to, for what purpose, the lease fees, and whether obligations have been placed on leases to employ the former estate workers.
It posited that those workers should have been given the opportunity to express their want to secure some of the lands. It said no such opportunity was granted.
GAWU said that NICIL’s engagements in the sale of many assets owned by the state, including recent orders signed by Finance Minister, Winston Jordan, regarding land transfers to private individuals, is disheartening.
Four sugar estates- Skeldon, Rose Hall, Enmore and Wales- were closed over the past four years because of poor performance by the Coalition Government.
The NICIL/SPU has been attempting to find investors, but investors have been balking at the aging factories and current low world price for sugar.
Source: Kaieteur News.