For more than a decade, many letter writers and the political opposition have blamed the PPP/C Government for the failure of the Skeldon factory project and by extension the entire industry.
However, recent research by reputable individuals into the historical facts on this subject, and our findings, show a very different picture. In fact, it was Booker Tate and the APNU+AFC government that were ultimately responsible for the dire situation of the Skeldon project and by extension, the sugar industry.
The Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) was formed in 1976, when the Government of Guyana nationalized and merged the sugar estates operated by Booker Sugar Estates Limited, Tate and Lyle and Jessels Holdings.
GuySuCo initially lacked needed experience and the financial capital needed to maintain the sugar plantations and processing mills during economically difficult periods.
In the late 1980’s, it was President Desmond Hoyte who asked Booker Tate to take over the management of Guysuco. This eventually manifested into an agreement between the Government of Guyana and Booker Tate Limited dated October 12, 1990, and renewed March 7, 1994, and March 26, 1996. T
New research shows that Booker Tate was delinquent in the performance of its duties. The sequence of events can be summarized as follows:
• In 2000, GuySuCo approached Booker Tate for assistance with sugar industry development; Booker Tate then conducted a feasibility study, from which the Skeldon sugar factory project was birthed.
• In 2004, GuySuCo entered into a written agreement with Booker Tate for the provision of Project Management Services in respect of the implementation phase of the Skeldon Modernization Project.
• In 2005, GuySuCo began construction of a new sugar cane factory and electricity cogeneration plant at Skeldon Sugar Estate, and in 2008, the factory was commissioned.
The relationship between GuySuCo and Booker Tate deteriorated due to sub-standard performance by Booker Tate in their oversight role of the Skeldon Project. To this end, under the chairmanship of Dr. Nanda Gopaul, GuySuCo withheld payment of Booker Tate’s management fees, which eventually led to Booker Tate taking court action against GuySuCo for same to be settled.
Based on sound legal advice, GuySuCo filed a counterclaim against Booker Tate for alleged contractual breaches in relation to the Skeldon Project. However, the APNU/AFC Government withdrew the appeal in 2015 when they assumed office, thereby allowing Booker Tate to exit without any liability to the State.
Joel Bhagwandin & Dr. Randy Persaud