Who owns Gravel & Concrete?

THE NEW TODAY understands that the Keith Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) government is no longer in total control of the Gravel Concrete and Emulsion Production Corporation.

A source told this newspaper that Trinidad businessman Lindsay Gillette has entered into a Public Private Partnership (PPP) to take over the operation of Gravel & Concrete.

The source said that Gillette met with workers at the state-owned body on October 24 to inform them of the new development.

He spoke of the Trinidad & Tobago businessman informing the workers that he is now waiting on government to officially sign the deal but hinted that there seems to be some dragging of feet by the NNP regime on the arrangement.

According to the source, Gillette indicated that there would be a name change for the company from Gravel & Concrete to GRAVCO.

The businessman reportedly told workers that as part of the agreement the permanent staff would be kept but hinted that there would be no place for temporary contract workers.

This newspaper understands that Health Minster Nickolas Steele was present at the meeting between Gillette and the corporation staffers but was mostly quiet.

There has been no official announcement from the Mitchell government in the Botanical Gardens on the current status of Gravel & Concrete.

Attempts to reach the President of the bargaining agents for the workers, Andre Lewis of the Technical & Allied Workers Union (TAWU) on the issue was futile.

A staffer at TAWU office said that Lewis was out of State and the other senior employees were out of office attending to the Gravel & Concrete development at the moment.

The source said that the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Gravel & Concrete, Martin Thomas and Manager Wilfred Hercules were also in attendance at the meeting with Gillette.

He spoke of looking in their direction and found them to be rather shocked since they were trying to allay the fears of workers with earlier assurances that the PPP was no longer on the cards.

Gillette is known to have entered into an arrangement with government to take over the operations of the government-owned Belle Vue estate.

The cash-strapped Mitchell-led government has been under pressure from the Washington-based International Monetary Fund (IMF) to address a number of loss-making state-owned enterprises as part of a Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP).

An arm of the fund known as CARTAC had advised the regime in a report done in 2014 to sell three of the corporations – Gravel & Concrete, Grenada Marketing & National Importing Board (MNIB) and the Housing Authority of Grenada (HAG).

According to the report that was submitted, CARTAC concluded that Gravel & Concrete was “a loss making” venture with what it described as “a high fixed cost structure”.

It said that the corporation was surviving as a “monopoly” due to the provision of gravel products but had defaulted on existing debts and that although it has valuable assets the state entity was not “earning commercial returns”.

CARTAC concluded that, “Gravel and Concrete is under significant financial stress, and its ability to compete with private operators is questionable”.

“Its current survival depends on inefficient monopolies. There is limited rationale for continuing government ownership and government should strongly consider selling the business”, said the report.

“Options will be needed that prevent a private monopoly in aggregates being created. This could be achieved by splitting assets, or granting concessions to develop new quarry sites”, CARTAC concluded.

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