…as Govt lambasted for pre-emptive closure of sugar factoriesGovernment used its one seat majority to approve in the National Assembly a financial supplemental paper that would provide it with $2.5 billion in capital and current supplemental finances, but those efforts were staunchly examined by the Parliamentary Opposition.Opposition Parliamentarian Dharamkumar SeerajAt the sitting, Agriculture Minister Noel Holder was first in the line of fire. Asked to explain the $600 million being sought under line item one of the paper, Holder blamed the need for the money on the non-performing Guyana Sugar Corporation and the need to maintain drainage and irrigation at the estates. This, he noted, includes residential drainage.Opposition Parliamentarian Dharamkumar Seeraj lambasted the Government for closing the estates without undertaking adequate studies that would have ascertained the cost that would come with closing the estates. According to this Member of Parliament, Government is only now coming to terms with the costs of its decision.Agriculture Minister Noel Holder“We are only in the fifth month and already this Ministry (wants more money),” Seeraj said. “This indicates that this Ministry is unsure about what it’s doing. I would ask the Minister of Agriculture to explain how it intends spend this money.”Holder explained that the NDIA would be responsible for 26 additional drainage pump stations with 55 pumps; three additional pump stations with eight pumps; and the maintenance of 4,560 additional miles of drainage and irrigation canals, 1000 miles of access dams, and 760 bridges, among other things.A memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between the two entities will see the NDIA contracting GuySuCo to maintain middle-walks and canals, and rebuilding access dams, among other things. The NDIA would supervise the works, while GuySuCo would provide the manpower for the work.Additionally, GuySuCo would provide a coordinating officer at each estate to inspect and verify the work.According to the supplemental paper, the money is being sought “to offset increased expenditure for National Drainage and Irrigation Authority arising from the transfer of drainage and irrigation responsibilities previously undertaken by GuySuCo.”While Holder was able to provide basic information on expenditure at the various estates since the beginning of the year, he ultimately had to commit to laying over certain documents in a week’s time.On that note, the sums were approved as part of the overall sums that ultimately were approved.The National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICL) has officially taken over the divested sugar estates.Some $30 billion had been sought by the state, with NICIL outlining earlier this year that the funding is expected to cover a four-year period to provide capital and support infrastructure maintenance and upgrades at Albion, Blairmont and Uitvlugt estates.The Special Purpose Unit (SPU) established under NICIL to oversee the divestment of the sugar corporation’s assets had selected London-based PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to value GuySuCo’s assets, so that they could be sold to private investors.Government had, through State Minister Harmon, announced it would be keeping the divested estates running, since it would make more economic sense for investors wanting to buy the estates to see them functioning. Monies would therefore have to be allocated to keep the estates running.