…even as Govt seeks $30B ‘survival’ loanWhile $30 billion in loans are being sought for the Guyana Sugar Corporation’s (GuySuCo’s) operations over the next four years, the corporation is still to clear the $77 billion in debt it had accumulated by January of last year.GuySuCo’s Finance Director, Paul BhimIn an interview with this publication, GuySuCo’s Finance Director, Paul Bhim, was questioned on this situation; and according to Bhim, the corporation has not been able to acquire any write-off of its debt since appearing before the Economic Services Committee last year.“That’s still there at the moment,” said Bhim regarding the mountain of debt. “But we are actively pursuing the restructuring of the debt.”In January of last year, the National Assembly’s Economic Services Committee was informed by then GuySuCo Chief Executive Officer, Errol Hanoman, that the debt stood at $77 billion. This money was owed to the National Insurance Scheme (NIS), the Guyana Revenue Authority, the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), and other entities.This publication made contact with current Chairman of the Economic Services Committee, the Minister within the Finance Ministry, Jaipaul Sharma. He assured that, in 2018, the committee would continue examining the corporation and its financial status.“The first interim report was discussed in Parliament; that report will tell you that we only interviewed GuySuCo,” Sharma said. “We didn’t come up with any recommendations; we have to continue looking at GuySuCo.”It was announced over the weekend that the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited’s (NICIL’s) Special Purpose Unit (SPU) is seeking some $30 billion in loans and investments to support its new ward — the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo).It is understood that this funding would cover a four-year period, and would provide capital and support infrastructure maintenance and upgrades at Albion, Blairmont and Uitvlugt. The funds are also expected to go towards developing new co-generation capacity for the estate operations and the national electric grid.One of NICIL’s first acts since assuming responsibility for GuySuCo has been to abruptly end the life of the old Board of Directors. Coming out of a special board meeting, a decision was taken to have a new board installed as of February 14.The NICIL board has also handed down instructions to GuySuCo to freeze all hiring. According to NICIL’s public relations consultant Alex Graham, instructions have also been handed down to not renew any employee contracts that are in the process of expiring.Graham also revealed the status of negotiations between the state and Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL). In January, DDL had submitted an Expression of Interest (EoI) for the purchase of one of the estates. This was even as the SPU was seeking interested buyers for the Skeldon and Enmore estates.DDL, which produces the international award-winning El Dorado rums, has raised concerns over Government’s plans to downsize the sugar sector. The company heavily depends on molasses for its production of rums.Graham had also noted that PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), the firm blacklisted in India but valuating GuySuCo’s assets, had raised concerns about the need to have the estates seen as “fully functioning operations and facilities”.