After signing ‘secret’ MoU with GovtOver a year after it signed a ‘secret’ Memorandum of Understanding with the Government of Guyana to look into developing a sugar cane processing facility at the Skeldon Estate, Trinidad and Tobago based D Rampersaud and Company Limited (DRCL) has resurfaced.Skeldon Sugar EstateThis time, the company, whose operations include automobile dealership, is one of two overseas-based companies that are bidding for the Skeldon Sugar Estate, which has been put up for divestment by the Special Purpose Unit (SPU).The other company is Guygulf International Trading Development, which not only bid for Skeldon, but also the Rose Hall and Enmore Estates. Guygulf is the parent company of local subsidiary Nand Persaud.Guyana Times first broke the news of the ‘secret’ deal inked between the Guyana Office for Investment (GO-Invest) and the Trinidadian-based company to pursue the possible development of an ‘Integrated Sugar Cane Processing Facility’ at the Skeldon Sugar Estate.The aim of the project was to realise power generation, ethanol production, rum production, solar power production, and construction of liquid bulk terminal – all utilising the US$200 million Skeldon Sugar Factory, inclusive of all of its assets and cane lands.According to the MoU inked between the Guyana Government and DRCL, the Trinidad-based company would have benefited substantially once its proposal was approved by the Administration.The MoU – while not legally binding – dictates expectations in the event of a definitive agreement, including access by DCRL to Skeldon Sugar Factory’s key infrastructure, favourable combinations of tax incentives, and land for sugarcane cultivation and infrastructure.The company was also set to receive reasonable approval cycles, guarantees on minimum product take-off by the Government with respect to electric power and fuel ethanol, guaranteed pricing formulae and power export provisions.This means that while the company would have converted sugar cane into ethanol and electricity from bagasse, the Government would guarantee purchase of the powered generated at a yet to be negotiated price – inherently providing and immediate and guaranteed market for the company should the operations come on stream.Skeldon’s assets include 9308 hectares of sugar cane under cultivation and a co-generation plant with five generators and two boilers that can generate at least 40,000 kilowatt per hour (kWh) of energy.CriticismsCriticisms from observers had included that of Financial Analyst, Dr Peter Ramsaroop, who had observed that D Rampersaud and Company Limited have no past experience in any of the components in the MoU.The company’s website had asserted a five-decade history not in the sugar or any of its related industries, but rather in automotive and automotive accessories – meaning cars and car parts.The political analysist had observed too that, “the company is basically a Trinidadian auto parts company that is diverted into engineering over the years. The most they have is in repair of power generation equipment.”Notably too is the fact that the local witness to the MoU was a local car dealer of, Campbellville, Georgetown.“How can Go-Invest sign such a MoU with a company to look at sugar production, make rum or ethanol, etc in Guyana… the last time any Trinidadian company managed sugar was in 2007 when the industry was abolished and thousands were out of work,” Dr Ramsaroop had also questioned.
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