GuySuCo’s divestmentOver 71 Expressions of Interest (EoIs) have been received by the State for assets of the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) as the Government forges ahead with plans to divest and minimise the sugar industry.Minister of State, Joseph HarmonSpeaking at the post-Cabinet press briefing on Friday, Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, explained that Government would move forward with these EoIs only after completion of the valuation of GuySuCo’s assets, which is currently being carried out by the United Kingdom-based firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC).“That valuation will actually give us a good sense of what prices you’re actually looking at for the equipment, for the land, and all of these assets that belong to GuySuCo. So it’s an important step in the process to have these valuations done. So while some companies have actually made applications [and] expressed interest, what we are saying is: ‘Let us get the proper valuation and know exactly what it is that we’re doing’, so it is not done in a (piecemeal) manner,” he stated.According to Harmon, Government wants to ensure that this divestment process is done is an orderly and transparent way, especially since this is going to be one of the largest local transfers of State lands to private ownership.“So you don’t want allegations of favouritism, price-gouging and all of these things. We want to ensure a very smooth process, which will ensure that everyone gets a clear understanding and equal opportunity to purchase,” the State Minister posited.Sugar workers in line to collect severance payGovernment last year announced plans to minimise the local sugar industry and divest the corporation’s assets. To this end, a Special Purposes Unit (SPU) — which falls under the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) — was set up to oversee the divestment plans by way of either selling off or restarting factories with minimal staff to attract investors, both domestic and foreign.Room for improvementNICIL’s Special Purposes Unit (SPU) Head, Colvin Heath-London, has recently confirmed that, over the next few months, special emphasis would be placed on transforming GuySuCo’s economic misfortune into a situation wherein a fully self-sufficient, viable and competitive enterprise operates.However, asked about the performance of the three remaining estates – Uitvlugt, Blairmont and Albion — Minister Harmon has said they continue to function, but he believes there is room for improvement with the performance of these estates.“There is, of course, the need for some of these estates to really push themselves a little bit more; and I think that is something which we should look at. You’re also aware that DDL (Demerara Distillers Limited) had to actually import molasses because of a shortfall in their production, and these are things that we need to get right… These are what you call ‘low hanging fruits’ that are there that we should take advantage of,” he opined.Guyana Times reported earlier this week that the Albion Estate on the Corentyne Coast in East Berbice has vacancies for some 600 workers of various categories, and as such, may not be able to meet its target for the second crop, which is expected to commence within a few weeks, if most of those vacancies are not filled by then.SeveranceGovernment’s plan to minimise the sugar industry has seen the closure of the Skeldon, Enmore and Rose Hall Estates, making more than 5,700 workers redundant and putting them on the breadline. Before this, the Wales Estate was also shut down in 2016, leaving in excess of 1000 workers jobless.While the Wales workers are yet to be paid their severance, some of the more than 5000 dismissed workers who were entitled to $500,000 or less were paid in full. Those who had accumulated more than that amount received only half of their severance, and were promised by Government to be paid the remaining 50 per cent in the second half of the year.The Minister of State has assured on Thursday that Government is still committed to fulfilling this promise.“The Government had committed to paying the sugar workers the [remaining] severance, and I had said the time which was stipulated by the Government – in the second half of the year. Somehow, persons took that to mean immediately or shortly… but I wanted to clarify that I said ‘in the second half of the year’, and we are going to do that,” Harmon posited.As part of efforts to sustain the minimised GuySuCo and bring it into a state of profitability and financial stability, the SPU has secured $30 billion in the form of a syndicated bond to support the industry.Since this announcement, concerns have been raised about Government’s vision for the industry and the genuineness of its actions thus far, since that very $30 billion could have gone into restructuring the industry while keeping all of the estates open and GuySuCo’s workforce employed and engaged.Meanwhile, the Private Placement Memorandum for GuySuCo’s $30 billion bond has received much criticism from Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo. He recently said he was shocked by the contents of the agreement, which now leaves more questions than answers.
AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week But the clock is running. And Bush may already have passed the point of no return, suggested Paul C. Light, a professor of public policy at New York University. “Unless Bush and his advisers do something dramatic to reposition the administration and stop the slide in public approval, they’re going to find they have very few friends who want to come to the White House, let alone friends who want them to come to their districts,” Light said. “And that’s about the worst possible position for a president to be in.” Some presidents tried but failed to mount successful comebacks. Nixon wasn’t able to recover from Watergate and was forced to resign in August 1974, a year and a half into the second term he won by a landslide. Presidents Ford, Carter and George H.W. Bush never recovered from their slumps – and were denied new terms by voters. Democratic presidents Truman and Lyndon Johnson, both hobbled by unpopular wars – Korea for Truman, Vietnam for Johnson – declined to seek re-election. Bush has been buffeted by the war in Iraq, the poor federal response to Hurricane Katrina, soaring fuel prices, a failed effort to revamp Social Security, the botched Supreme Court nomination of Harriet Miers, investigations of top Republican leaders, budget setbacks on Capitol Hill, and the indictment of Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff. “Presidents always get in trouble in second terms. He’s in more trouble than most,” said Steffen Schmidt, professor of political science at Iowa State University. “When bad luck comes along, you’ve got to have a lot of momentum and a lot of forward motion. But Bush didn’t do a lot of things that would have gotten him through those moments,” Schmidt said. “When the hurricanes hit, when Katrina hit in particular, he already had lost momentum. And he slammed into a wall.” Bush’s approval rating is at the lowest of his presidency – 37 percent in the most recent AP-Ipsos poll and at similar levels in comparable polls. Johnson, Reagan and Clinton also slipped into the mid-to-high 30s at some point during their terms. Truman, Nixon, Carter and George H.W. Bush saw their numbers slump into the 20s, with Truman’s at one point dipping to 23 percent. Some Republican advisers have proposed a major shake-up of Bush’s White House staff as part of any comeback plan. His top political adviser, Karl Rove, escaped charges from the federal grand jury that indicted Cheney aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby. But Rove remains under investigation, and under a cloud, making him an easy target for Democrats. Eisenhower was forced to accept the resignation of his top aide, Sherman Adams, in 1958 after Adams was accused of accepting gifts from a textile manufacturer in exchange for regulatory favors. Yet even with the 1960 U-2 spy plane controversy, Eisenhower’s approval ratings snapped back into the 60s as he neared the end of his term. Reagan replaced his chief of staff and his national security adviser in 1987 after his administration confirmed it had been selling weapons to Iran, with profits going to anti-communist rebels in Nicaragua. His approval rating when he left office rebounded to around 60 percent. Clinton proposed an ambitious agenda in his 1998 State of the Union address, a week after an investigation began into his relationship with White House intern Lewinsky. He traveled extensively. And his approval ratings rose to as high as 70 percent even as the Republican-controlled House voted to impeach him. He was acquitted in early 1999 by the Senate. White House officials disputed suggestions that Bush could prematurely become a lame-duck political liability for Republicans on next year’s ballot. But GOP national chairman Ken Mehlman conceded that, while Bush loves to help congressional candidates, in some cases the candidates themselves “believe it’s better if he didn’t.” Former Nixon speechwriter Stephen Hess cautioned it’s always dangerous to write the obituary of prominent politicians, recalling Nixon’s 1968 comeback after losing the presidency in 1960 and the California governorship in 1962. Bush still has three years in office, “and three years in the life of a president is an eternity,” Hess said. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! WASHINGTON – Other presidents have recovered from ratings slumps like the one George W. Bush is in right now: Dwight Eisenhower came back after the Sherman Adams scandal; Ronald Reagan rebounded after Iran-Contra; Bill Clinton triumphed after Monica Lewinsky. Republican strategists say Bush, too, has time to snap out of a three-month run of bad luck and setbacks, including GOP losses Tuesday in gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey. Still, a comeback will be tough, and will get increasingly tougher the closer the 2006 midterm elections come, strategists in both parties agree. Bush might want to look back to successful predecessors for pointers. He could shake up his White House staff, as Eisenhower and Reagan did in their troubled second terms. Or he could follow Clinton’s lead and engage in a flurry of domestic and foreign policy initiatives.
Judy O’Rourke, (661) 257-5255 firstname.lastname@example.org 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! SANTA CLARITA – A private waste hauler will take over Santa Clarita’s free curbside pickup of old electronic devices whose innards are too hazardous to be dumped in the trash. Computers, radios, TVs and fax machines are eligible for the service, which will be handed over in 2006 to Blue Barrel Disposal. The city had collected discarded e-waste under a program funded by a three-year state grant. “If it’s got a plug, runs on batteries or has a circuit board, chances are it’s an e-waste,” said Ben Lucha, an environmental analyst for the city. The service is available to residents within Santa Clarita city boundaries and selected locations outside city limits. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORERose Parade grand marshal Rita Moreno talks New Year’s Day outfit and ‘West Side Story’ remake City residents may include hazardous materials such as antifreeze, car batteries, paint and oil filters in their e-waste trash pile. Residents who live in the unincorporated areas are not eligible for the curbside hazardous waste pickup. The County of Los Angeles collects hazardous waste drop-offs at the Antelope Valley public landfill in Palmdale the first and third Saturdays of the month, and in Sun Valley from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Saturday, Sunday and Monday, except for holidays. Beginning April 15, Blue Barrel will become the city’s exclusive residential waste hauler. Customers will be able to dispose of e-waste as part of the four free bulky-item collections offered each year. Customers are currently limited to two items a year. Blue Barrel’s monthly rates will decline for single-family home customers, from $18.64 to $16.25, Lucha said. The rates for apartments and condominiums could vary depending on how often trash is picked up. Additional e-waste pickups can be arranged for a fee with either Blue Barrel or Curbside, Inc., a subcontractor for the city. The city’s Environmental Services division can be reached at (661) 286-4098. Curbside pickup information is available at (800) HHW-PKUP. Information on county programs is available at (888) CLEAN-LA, or online at 888CLEANLA.com.