– land transactions being completed to assist cash-strapped GuySuCo
THE National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) has rejected claims that Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan, signed off on documents for the transferal of land.
The accusations against the minister was being circulated on Facebook and was titled, “APNU+AFC engaged in large-scale corruption … as Winston Jordan signed off on the transferal of land …”
“We wish to state clearly that the Minister of Finance, Hon. Winston Jordan, had no involvement in the selection of the investors, is not a member of the NICIL Board, nor is he involved in the day-to-day business of NICIL or the SPU (Special Purpose Unit),” said NICIL in a press statement.
The company reminded the public that through the SPU, they sold lands that were vested to it by the Government of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana.
NICIL received deposits for the lands commencing December 2019, however, the transactions remained incomplete since the vesting orders were not ‘signed and gazetted’ as required by law and this meant that the remaining sums could not be paid over by the investors.
The need for expediency in the payments for land, however, arose after the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) made public its financial crisis.
It was reported that the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and other prevailing national conditions have rendered the national treasury incapable of providing a bailout to the “cash-strapped” GuySuCo, but all hope is not lost, as the company is expected to benefit from $1.5 billion, paid to NICIL for the sale of land.
Following GuySuCo’s recent request to the government for a bailout, NICIL was approached to assist the company.
“By now, the public must be aware that a $30 Billion bond backed by NICIL’s assets and guaranteed by the Government of Guyana was secured through NICIL to retrofit and revitalise GUYSUCO. We wish to remind too, that from July 2018 to February 2020, NICIL has disbursed $9,720,759,568 to GUYSUCO to fund its Capital and Operational Expenditure,” said NICIL.
In a letter to President Granger on May 15, close to a month ago, Chairman of GuySuCo’s Board of Directors, John Dow, said the sugar corporation was in a “dire financial crisis” with billions in debt, and insufficient finances to execute critical factory maintenance.
“Despite improvements in the productivity of cane, GuySuCo’s sugar production for the last two crops has fallen short of expectations and the current COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the problems experienced in meeting the first crop 2020 production targets. As result, the cash generated from operations cannot meet the ‘outgoings’ particularly when external funding has been difficult to obtain,” Dow said as he painted a vivid picture of the financial challenges facing the sugar industry.
GuySuCo’s condition could dwindle even further if “crucial creditors” are paid, said Dow, noting that if the corporation takes this recourse the company would be out of cash before the second week of June.
“It is also common knowledge that GuySuCo and the bond holders were in the process of ironing out some matters so that further disbursements could be had. But NICIL, having recognised the urgency of the request, sought to complete the land transactions. It therefore became necessary to regularise the Vesting Orders,” said NICIL.
The company assured that along with government, they are committed to safeguarding the livelihood of the sugar workers and the industry.
In referring to the condition of the sugar corporation, President David Granger had said, “it is very unfortunate we are in this position. Throughout the tenure, we have been engaged in trying to resolve the issue of the industry.”
“We have done everything possible to return the industry to normalcy and even profitability…we will continue to help and not send anybody home…we want an efficient sugar industry which can produce sugar at competitive prices,” said President Granger.
The idea is to compete with Brazil, Cuba and other “heavy” sugar producers, but in order for Guyana to do that, the industry needs to be economically viable and feasible.