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Banker Aubyn Hill has been appointed as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Sugar Company of Jamaica (SCJ) Holdings Limited, which manages the remaining Government-owned sugar estates- Frome, Monymusk and Bernard Lodge.
This was disclosed by Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, in a statement to the House of Representatives Tuesday (February 23) at Gordon House.
Dr. Tufton explained that Mr. Hill’s roles will be to manage the operations of SCJ Holdings, so as to ensure continued improvements in efficiency of the three estates without recourse to the public purse, as well as accelerate the divestment these estates.
He said that Mr. Hill will be paid $7.5 million per annum to manage the company, which is within the guidelines of the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service for executives.
With regard to Mr. Hill’s role of finding equity investors to acquire the three Government estates, he will be paid a commission equivalent to one percent of the proceeds realized from their divestment, Dr. Tufton said.
He explained that SCJ Holdings Limited has received a number of unsolicited proposals and expressions of interest, in respect of the acquisition of Frome, Monymusk and Bernard Lodge.
He also noted that, given the lengthy process required for an open tender, and the urgent and pressing need to conclude the divestment of the remaining public sector sugar estates, Cabinet has mandated SCJ Holdings Limited to negotiate directly with all entities that would have submitted, up to March 31, 2010, proposals and/or expressions of interest in the estates.
Dr. Tufton told the House that Cabinet has appointed a new Board of Directors, composed of nine persons, for the three estates. The new board will be headed by Erwin Burton, who heads GraceKennedy’s GK Foods and Hardware and Lumber Limited.
He also disclosed that the pre-financing agreement between Italian conglomerate, Eridania Suisse, and SCJ Holdings has yielded significant benefits, including securing some 2,300 jobs at SCJ Holdings.
He said that, in addition, the deal has resulted in the establishment of over 1,200 new hectares of sugar cane, in less than five months; reduction in the cost of factory repairs by over 40 per cent; more than doubled the productivity of workers this crop, compared to last crop; and, most importantly, saved the Government approximately $5 billion in subsidies.
In June 2009, Mr. Tufton told Parliament of the conclusion of a pre-financing agreement with Eridania Suisse, for the sum of US $15 million against the supply of 79,000 tonnes of sugar, and that these funds were intended to finance the restructured operations led by SCJ Holdings Limited.
“Thanks to this arrangement, both the Monymusk and Frome factories have been prepared on time, allowing for the commencement of crop at Frome on December 7, the earliest in recent history,” the Minister observed.
“I am pleased to announce that the first shipment of some 19,000 tonnes of raw sugar, from our 79,000 tonnes commitment, was forwarded to Eridania on Friday February 12,” he added.