Even as thousands of sugar workers are being made redundant, President David Granger is seeking to assure that the Special Purpose Unit’s negotiations with investors will bear fruit and a plan for the Guyana Sugar Corporation’s (GuySuCo’s) massive land holdings will be developed.Granger gave the assurance on Friday during his first press conference in two years. When asked why there were no plans in place for workers before the divestment, Granger noted that Government, the unions, and the corporation itself must be factored in.“There are four major institutions to be considered. One is the corporation itself, which has not been dissolved, and it still has responsibility for the industry. The other is the Government, and the Ministry of Agriculture is responsible for reporting to Cabinet and the National Assembly. Third, you have the workers and their representatives, particularly GAWU and NAACIE”; and, of course, you have civil society and other agencies who are concerned with providing services to the sugar workers.“But as far as retrenchment or termination benefits are concerned, the Government is responsible for ensuring that the sugar corporation fulfils its obligations to the workers,” the President explained.He emphasised that the Special Purpose Unit (SPU), which is under the Finance Ministry, has recently engaged an internationally rated accounting firm — PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) — to value the land it will sell.“As far as the plan is concerned, there needs to be a lot more work from the fourth agency — what you can call the Special Purpose Unit, which comes under the Finance Ministry. That is the agency that will ensure the smooth transition of those parts of the industry which will not remain in production,” he explained.“So I would say that the work of the SPU is still being done. They are in negotiation, not only with the sugar corporation, but also with foreign investors. And I expect that, before too long, we will have a plan which will explain in greater detail how the land will be disposed of,” he detailed.Out of the three firms that had made submissions to the SPU, the United Kingdom-based PwC was selected to valuate GuySuCo. This is as Government moves ahead with efforts to privatise and diversify the sugar industry.According to the SPU when it announced the selection, all negotiations with PwC have been completed, and a contract is expected to be signed by December 18, 2017.Following the valuation exercise, PwC is expected to develop an investment prospectus which, through the SPU, would be distributed to all interested investors.The Opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic had previously called the move by the SPU to select the firm for the valuation process a vehicle for corruption that completely bypasses the established privatisation procedures and the sale of State assets.In order for the process to be underway, almost 4,000 sugar workers have had to be fired from the Skeldon, Enmore and Rose Hall operations of GuySuCo. This move by the Government have been slammed by the Opposition as a “callous decision”.Still viableDuring a meeting with the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU), SPU Head Colvin Heath-London informed the delegation that, following his assessment of the estates identified for closure and sell out, he is of the opinion that the estates are viable.He outlined that when certain costs are excluded from the estates’ overall expenditure, the overhead of their production is generally in keeping with international norms.In fact, the SPU Head has described the Skeldon sugar estate as a ‘gold mine’, a term which is far different from the phrases used by GuySuCo to describe the facility.
In the late afternoon of Thursday November 7, 2013, the Chetwynd RCMP were called to the scene where a logging truck had rolled off the roadway and into a river, killing the driver.The driver of the truck was pinned under the cab in the water and was unable to be saved. The logging company and Chetwynd RCMP worked through the night and remained on scene.Large equipment is being brought in to remove the logs and truck in order for members to recover the driver from the water.- Advertisement -The name of the driver is being with held at this time pending notification of next of kin.The BC Coroner’s Service and WorkSafe BC continue to work with the Chetwynd RCMP as the investigation into the crash continues.