By Shemuel FanfairThe National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICL) has officially taken over the divested sugar estates – namely Skeldon, East Demerara and Wales.NICL’s takeover was made official by a publication contained in an extra-ordinary issue of the Official Gazette dated December 30, 2017.The deal was guided under the Public Corporations Act, Chapter 19:05, by Finance Minister Winston Jordan, who made the order on December 29, the very day that many sugar workers were expected to lose their jobs. The takeover does not include any assets, lands or property for the Berbice estates of Albion and Blairmont and the Uitvlugt Estate on the West Coast of Demerara, as those entities will remain under GuySuCo for the foreseeable future.According to the Finance Minister’s order, the property was transferred to, and vested in, NICL “absolutely free and clear from all claims and liabilities.”The order gives NICIL authority over “all the moveable and immovable property owned, used, leased or licensed by GuySuCo or the State, save and except for Albion Estate, Blairmont Estate, and Utivlugt Estate”.Included in the takeover are all properties owned by, or leased to, the Skeldon, Rose Hall, Wales and Enmore estates, and other properties in the Demerara and Berbice counties.This transfer means that NICIL has authority over four thousand, seven hundred (4700) acres of State lands, some of which were surveyed since the 19th century. Additionally, all machinery, plant and equipment, motor and agricultural vehicles, and other items owned by GuySuCo or the divested estates now fall under NICL. It was also revealed that all shares issued by GuySuCo and being owned or held by the sugar corporation now belong to the state company.This official move did not come unexpectedly, as the Special Purpose Unit (SPU) was established under NICIL in 2017 to oversee the divestment of the sugar corporation’s assets. The SPU has since selected London-based PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to value the assets of the heavily indebted and cash-strapped corporation. Guyana Times understands that when the SPU was established, it had requested interested parties to submit Expressions of Interest (EoIs) to Government for the potential purchase of one of the sugar estates.One such company expressing interest has been Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL), which had publically voiced its concerns over the threat to its supply of molasses – a key ingredient in making its world class rum.“At the moment, we are looking at all options. Until the SPU comes back to those who have expressed interest and say, ‘These are the soft structures that we’re looking at’, and that kind of thing, then we would be unable to make a formal proposal for one or a combination of the options available,” Public Relations Representative for DDL, Alex Graham, told Guyana Times on Wednesday last.DDL has observed that its distillery production for 2017 increased by some 30 per cent over 2016, surpassing projections last year. The company has also noted that production for 2018 is projected to increase by a further 25 per cent over 2017. It was against this backdrop that the company stated its concerns over the impact that the downsizing of the sugar industry would have on it meeting its projections for this year.DDL has also pointed out that, based on production demand for local and international customers, its molasses requirement for 2018 is 70,000 tons. In contrast, GuySuCo has set a sugar production target of 115,000 tons at the three estates currently earmarked to remain in operation, and molasses production has been pegged at 52,000 tons.“In light of this shortfall, DDL has been actively exploring its potential role in the future of the sugarcane industry, and has executed a high-level technical and economic feasibility study on innovative approaches to use the existing sugar assets to meet the current and future needs for molasses for an expanding distilling industry,” the company has stated.Meanwhile, President of the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU), Komal Chand, has observed that the interest shown by DLL to potentially purchase a sugar estate proves, in his view, that the industry is still viable and is worth keeping alive. Whether or not there are economic benefits or drawbacks from the divestment plans, the recently retrenched employees from the Enmore, Rose Hall and Skeldon Estates have reiterated their displeasure at the estates’ closures, with some accusing Government of taking an easy route out in response to the many challenges that face the industry.
“It has been a very tough time for me but above all I’m strong. I fought my way back and now I feel better. It feels good to be back and now I’m focused on keeping myself injury free and try help the team,” The midfielder told the club’s official website.“When I’m injured I don’t like it; no one likes it. That is the worst time for a player. For me it has been a really tough four months, but I’m thankful because my team-mates have helped me get back, the doctors have been of help as well,” Wanyama further added.He has also revealed he was forced to work extra hard in order to be back in the shortest time possible, sometimes sleeping for only three hours a day as he raced against time to gain fitness.Victor Wanyama in training at Tottenhams Headquarters this week.This has been the longest injury period in Wanyama’s career since his move to the United Kingdom with Celtc FC, but he has been credited for having come off it faster than anticipated.“Mentally I am strong and I was just focusing on getting better. It hasn’t been easy, I am glad I’m back now ready to work hard and help the team,” he added.His coach Mauricio Pochettino, who had earlier admitted in Spurs’ rough patch that the team was struggling without their combative midfield workhorse, was happy to see Wanyama back running in the middle of the pack and providing the much needed defensive shield.“I’m so pleased for Victor (Wanyana) as well. He played well. He’s had a lot of months out and I’m happy to see him back again,” Pochettino said in his post match remarks.Wanyama was pleased to be back on a winning note, especially noting they were hunting on tough grounds in Wales, against a side fighting for their lives to stay in the Premier League.Ben Davies celebrates scoring Tottenham Hotspur’s sixth goal with Kenya’s Victor Wanyama.PHOTO/courtesy“It was a good team performance, everyone fought for the team and we showed character that we can dig deep in the hard times. It was a good three points,” he offered.Wanyama now hopes his presence will influence the team to get back to the top having struggled since the start of the season despite their brilliant performance last term. Spurs are currently fifth on the standings with 40 points, 22 behind leaders Manchester City.“It’s important to try fight our way back to the top. It’s been a tough season for us and now we are trying to get back to winning ways. Hopefully we can grind results and get the team to where it belongs,” he said.Spurs are faced with a feisty fixture calendar and they will be facing West Ham on Thursday at Wembley before playing AFC Wimbledon at the same venue on Sunday in the FA Cup.0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today) 0Shares0000Victor Wanyama made Tottenham return against Swansea. Photo/COURTESYNAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 3- Harambee Stars captain Victor Wanyama says it has been the toughest four months having battled a knee injury to return to first team action for his English Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur on Tuesday night.Wanyama came off the bench in the 59th minute replacing Colombian defender Davinson Sanchez as Spurs won 2-0 over relegation threatened Swansea in Wales. This was the Kenyan’s first appearance since coming off injured in the 2-1 defeat to Chelsea on August 20.