No clear plan for GuySuCo’s $30B bond – GAWU

first_img…adds proposal submitted for wages and salary increases The Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) has flayed the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo), and by extension the Government of Guyana, for not putting forward any clear plan as it relates to utilising the $30 billion borrowed for the revitalisation of the closed sugar factories.“As the year ends, the GAWU remains concerned that, so far, the stakeholders nor the public, have seen a clear plan regarding the $30 billion borrowed towards the revitalisation of the remaining GuySuCo estates. On this score, we are aware that Finance Minister Winston Jordan, in responding to questions posed to him in the National Assembly, advised that the bond is aimed mainly to acquire two co-generation plants; to upgrade existing factories to produce plantation white sugar; to build storage and packing facilities; and to contribute to two years of general operational costs. Interestingly and conspicuously absent, were any mention of investments in the cane fields to improve productivity,” GAWU Assistant General Secretary Aslim Singh noted.He made the statement at the Union’s end of year press conference on Friday at the Union’s High Street, Kingston Headquarters.Singh explained that during the first quarter of 2018, the Union has an engagement with then CEO Paul Bhim who informed them that some $11 billion would be spent on capital works across the three estates namely Skeldon, Rose Hall and Enmore with about 70 per cent of that sum being utilised in the fields.Earlier this year, the Government through the National Industrial Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) Special Purposes Unit (SPU) acquired the $30 billion bond from at an interest rate of 4.7 per cent. The Union said despite being a part of the Government and having the responsibility of the sugar industry, Agriculture Minister Noel Holder seems clueless as to the happenings in the industry.“It seemed to us that apparently Minister Holder is out of the loop regarding the monies that have been borrowed which are backed by a sovereign Government guarantee and secured by the assets of NICIL – which incidentally belong to the people of Guyana. The Agriculture Minister’s tirade, as it were, is yet another demonstration of how the affairs of the country are addressed by the Granger Administration. It also, once more, brings into focus the Administration’s more than confused approach to the sugar industry generally,” Singh said, as he read from a prepared statement.GAWU said it remains supportive of plans that would secure the sugar industry and safeguard its viability.However, their support is predicated on sound, credible and well-thought-out plans adding that the seeming secrecy shrouding the plans for the bond borrowed with a sovereign guarantee is something that causes them to feel uneasy and worried.“If it is there is a plan, as the Minister of Finance says, we urge those in authority to share those plans with a view to having full discussions as all stakeholders are desirous of having a successful sugar industry,” the Union noted.Zeroing in on the responsibility for the advancement of the sugar industry, GAWU noted that there seems to be confusion in the Government’s camp in this regard. It referred to the move by the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change Administration to strip GuySuCo of its assets relating to the closed estates and transferring them without liability to NICIL as well as the shares.“The clear confusion regarding sugar was also manifested when we saw musical chairs being played by the Ministers of Agriculture and Finance, with both gentlemen denying they had ministerial responsibility for the industry. Then suddenly and without any forewarning, the Agriculture Minister announced he was in charge of GuySuCo though no explanation, as far as we recall, was ever provided as to how the contradictions were resolved,” the union noted.Since the SPU took over the affairs of the closed estates there have been a number of standoffs between GuySuCo and them. The major one being the issues surrounding the refurbished LBI club house in which the Corporation’s headquarters are located.“Our Union, from press reports, also recognised that there seems to be some degree of confusion within the Administration regarding the sugar industry. That, it seems, has now spilt over into the industry’s management and which will not help in confidence building and commitment, essential elements for success. At this time, the GAWU reiterates that the situation cannot be allowed to continue the way it is as it is not in the interest of anyone, especially the workers. The GAWU calls on the Government to apprehend the sad situation that is prevailing. It is time to end the tug-of-war,” the Union said.IncreasesOver the past weeks, several sugar workers took to the streets calling for an increase in their wages and salaries, adding that the last increase was over four years ago. GuySuCo announced that this year, it would be awarding its workers a bonus but GAWU has since indicated that the bonus falls under the Annual Production Incentive (API) scheme which has been suspended for a few years now.“While happy about this development, workers remain concerned that the Corporation has yet to consider the Union’s claim for a 15 per cent rise-in-pay retroactive to January 1, 2018. At the end of the day, the bonus while welcome, at the same time, will see workers in 2019 earning the same rates-of-pay that were approved since in 2014. At this time, the GAWU and GuySuCo have already concluded discussions on the non-wage benefits. Those engagements resulted in a few improvements being secured,” the Union noted.GAWU said it has since submitted a counter-proposal regarding the bonus which GuySuCo has committed to examining.last_img read more

Developer gets City Council OK on funding

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week TELACU representatives requested that $1.3 million in federal HOME funds be exchanged for $1.05 million from the 20 percent “set aside” funds — the portion of property tax increment money that by state law must be used for low/moderate-income or senior housing. The federal Davis-Bacon Act of 1931 requires that any federally assisted construction projects over $2,000 must pay a local prevailing wage to on-site workers. However, state law SB975, passed in 2001, allowed an exemption from prevailing wage requirements when a project uses set-aside funds. “We found out when you mix federal funds of any kind with other funds, you must pay the going rate,” said Ruben Lopez, the city’s director of Community Development. “We didn’t know at the time we signed the original contract that prevailing wage was a factor when using the HOME dollars. So (TELACU) said they were willing to take less in assistance and borrow more in private funds in exchange for all set-aside money.” Bagwell, however, wondered if any interest had accumulated during the couple of years since the original funding for the project was approved. “They sat on the HUD money for two years,” he said. “That’s a long time. Now they’re asking for a lot more money. The money probably goes into an escrow fund and draws interest. Does the interest go to the city? Or back with the HUD money?” Originally, the project combined federal Section 108 HUD loans with the set-aside funds. But in 2003, the city asked for the Section 108 money back for use on the Whittier Boulevard revitalization project in exchange for HOME funds. TELACU agreed, believing that move didn’t change any development details. According to Michael Lizarraga, TELACU president, TELACU never took possession of the HUD money and knew nothing of any accumulated interest. No construction has begun, since escrow only recently closed on the property. Lizarraga also said the contract never intended to accommodate the costs of prevailing wages. “Because of the political tenor in Montebello right now, people made this about the unions,” Lizarraga said. “We support the unions fully. We never intended for this particular project to be a prevailing wage one. Paying it raises the total cost of the project by about 30 percent and couldn’t be done. The council knew it and the public knew it four years ago. We pay prevailing wage in about 75 percent of our projects, but this was one we couldn’t.” TELACU’s attorney told Lizarraga recently that combining federal and state money for the Plaza project may trigger the Davis-Bacon Act wages, and suggested they ask the city to exchange the HOME Funds for all set-aside funds. “We were unclear about if we’d be subject to the Davis-Bacon wages so we just figured we should try to make it all set-aside funds,” Lizarraga said. “The changes helped us clarify our costs and the city got back $250,000 in HOME money they can use for other projects. We saw it as a win-win situation.” — Pam Wight can be reached at (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3029, or by e-mail at [email protected] local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! MONTEBELLO — Facing anti-union charges, housing developer TELACU Industries secured approval recently from the City Council to change funding sources for their Montebello Downtown Plaza project in order to avoid prevailing wage laws. The Plaza will be constructed at Whittier and Montebello boulevards on part of the land that was owned by Sav-on Drugs. Councilman Bob Bagwell accused TELACU of circumventing prevailing wage laws by switching funding from a mix of federal and state sources to strictly state funds — a move that would allow the company to pay on-site workers less than the standard rate for similar jobs. “They wanted to get out of the federal portion of the funding because that meant they would have to pay a prevailing wage,” Bagwell said.last_img read more

David Attenborough Finds Living Fossil Tree Romantic, Not Devastating

first_imgEngland’s famous Kew Royal Botanical Gardens is getting a Wollemi Pine, and David Attenborough, naturalist and evolution popularist, is proud of it.  This “living fossil” was thought extinct for 200 million years, but was found alive and well a few years ago in Australia (see 12/15/2000 entry).    Grinning like a kid at Christmas, Attenborough said, “How marvellous and exciting that we should have discovered this rare survivor from such an ancient past.  It is romantic, I think, that something has survived 200 million years unchanged.”  See the story at the BBC News.  Some day soon you may be able to buy your own Wollemi Pine at the local nursery.Here is a tree that showed no evolution whatsoever for supposedly 200 million years, while continents broke apart and most of the mammals evolved from small rodents to elephants, whales, giraffes and people, and Attenborough isn’t worried that this does some damage to his world view?  Bizarre.  Logically, he should be questioning whether 200 million years was just a figment of Lyellian imagination.  The BBC should be announcing: Wollemi lives; evolution extinct.(Visited 8 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Business’ commitment to NDP welcomed

first_img14 May 2014The government has welcomed Business Unity South Africa’s (Busa’s) post-election pledge to support the implementation of the National Development Plan (NDP).The NDP is the country’s 30-year growth and development framework for growing the economy while tackling unemployment, poverty and inequality.Following the African National Congress’s (ANC’s) victory with a 62% majority in South Africa’s fifth democratic election, President Jacob Zuma said on the weekend that the new administration would give the green light to implementing the NDP and promoting inclusive economic growth and job creation.On Monday, Busa, South Africa’s largest business lobby group, said it was ready to help the government with implementing the NDP. Busa acting CEO Cas Coovadia said business needed to identify “concrete” programmes within the NDP that it could start implementing.In response, acting Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) CEO Phumla Williams said on Tuesday that a high degree of collaboration between business and the government was needed for the NDP’s success.“The pledge by Busa is a step in the right direction to realising Vision 2030,” Williams said, adding: “This is the country’s blueprint, and not only government’s initiative. All citizens should embrace Vision 2030 and work together to grow our economy and improve the lives of South Africans.”Rating agency Moody’s said on Tuesday that the ANC’s decisive victory in last week’s general election was “credit positive” for South Africa, as it cleared the way for the government to push ahead with implementing the NDP.“Our key takeaway from this election is that macroeconomic policy continuity is now more assured, a credit positive,” Moody’s said in a credit report.SAinfo reporter and read more