JIS News

By the end of this month, a submission will go to Cabinet for a review of the Government’s contract with former banker and business consultant, Aubyn Hill, to provide technical guidance for the divestment of the island’s five sugar estates.
This was disclosed by Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton, in the House of Representatives on December 1.
“Depending on what happens between now and the end of the year, I intend to go back to Cabinet, where a decision will be made as to how we proceed beyond the end of this calendar year,” the Minister said.
Dr. Tufton explained that the Government is anticipating the final investment decision of Italian company, Eridania, in regard to the Frome, Monymusk and Bernard Lodge sugar estates. Mr. Hill was part of a team comprising Dr. Tufton, Ambassador Derrick Heaven, and Robert Levy, who visited Eridania’s headquarters in Bologna, in May, to hold discussions.
Last month, the Minister said that the country has received “value for money” in contracting the services of the consultancy firm, Corporate Strategies Limited, which is headed by Mr. Hill.
“So far, the returns have been such, that the taxpayers have not been called on by the sugar cane industry,” Dr. Tufton stated. He had also pointed out that the contract with Corporate Strategies Limited was duly approved by both the Cabinet and the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service.
He was speaking against the background of media reports regarding monthly payments of just under $2 million to Corporate Strategies Limited.
Mr. Hill has chaired the Sugar Enterprise Team since its establishment in 2005, to identify the SCJ assets to be privatised, prepare information memoranda for potential investors and request and evaluate bids in respect of the assets.
The process was concluded in June, 2008, with the signing of a Heads of Agreement with Brazilian firm, Infinity Bio Energy (IBE), which did not materialise, in light of IBE’s financial challenges. The Terms of Reference were subsequently revised to facilitate negotiations beyond that Heads of Agreement, resulting in Corporate Strategies Limited being retained to assist with this phase. Approval of the engagement resulted from discussions at the Cabinet level, consequent on talks between the Ministries of Agriculture and Finance and the Public Service.

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