Public Utilities Minister, Gregory Bowen has given the strongest possible hint that the two year old ruling New National Party (NNP) government is about to change the ownership structure of the state-owned Gravel Concrete & Emulsion Production Corporation.
Speaking in Parliament last Friday, Minister Bowen who is the line minister for the state body announced that a “potential partner” was expected to submit a proposal on Monday for a stake in the company.
He said the cash-strapped administration which cannot pump money into Gravel & Concrete Corporation favours a “private/public partnership model” for the enterprise.
“We are expecting a proposal from a current potential partner on Monday,” the minister told the sitting that took place at the Grenada Trade Centre, Morne Rouge, St George.
“…If that (the proposal) does not meet governments’ requirements then we would put that proposal aside and move on to the next person and we will negotiate…”, he said.
Speculation is rife that a local company that operates in the Dusty Highway area in the south of the island has expressed interest in Gravel & Concrete.
A well-placed source told this newspaper that a senior official of the company visited the Mon Rush premises of the corporation to access its property especially the equipment.
Minister Bowen told Parliament that several proposals are already on the table for consideration and that this Friday (March 6) is the proposed deadline for all submissions to be sent in.
His announcement comes against the backdrop of a report submitted to government for consideration by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) regulated consultancy group – Caribbean Regional Technical Assistance Centre (CARTAC) that the State should consider selling the company declaring it as a “loss-making venture”.
The 2013 annual report of the Corporation that was presented recently in Parliament indicated that after operating at a steady decline in revenue for four consecutive years totaling more than EC$7.5 M, Gravel & Concrete was on the rebound.
The financial audited report done by local accountant Rupert Agostini indicated that the losses in revenue for 2013 was only EC$56, 720 as compared to a massive EC$2 M experienced in 2012.
The annual report stated that Gravel & Concrete recorded EC$12, 737, 129 in net sales in the year under review as compared to EC$10, 093, 316 in 2012, while cost of sales stood at EC$9, 061, 984 and EC$ 8, 321, 505 in 2013 and 2012, respectively.
Despite acknowledging that Gravel & Concrete is on a path to economic recovery, Minister Bowen told the Lower House of Representative that the NNP government’s venture into public/private partnership is in keeping with IMF recommendations.
Bowen who also holds the responsibility for Communications, Physical Development, Public Utilities & ICT lauded the quality of manufactured products as done by Gravel & Concrete.
“It is the only organisation in Grenada whose product can compete with any international standards”, he said.
Gravel & Concrete is the sole producer and supplier of gravel and gravel aggregates in Grenada, Carriacou and Petit Martinique.
It was established through an Act of Parliament in 1986 under the then NNP administration of Herbert Blaize in which current Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell served as Minister of Works.