Fifteen persons have so far been sent home from the financially challenged state-owned entity, Gravel, Concrete & Emulsion Production Corporation as the Washington-based International Monetary Fund (IMF) forces Grenada to take action on the loss-making enterprise.
According to Public Utilities Minister, Gregory Bowen, Government has received four applications that would be considered as the ruling New National Party (NNP) administration looks for a partner to help run the corporation.
A study conducted by CARTAC, an arm of the IMF, identified Gravel & Concrete for some form of privatisation due to its heavy reliance on the state for assistance.
Speaking to reporters at a recent post-Cabinet Press briefing, Minister Bowen said Government would not be giving up all the assets of the state body as part of the Public/Private Sector Partnership being worked upon.
He said the thinking of the government is that any agreement would see the assets of the corporation return to the people after 20 years.
“…We can (then) move into another PPP – our children or grand children would make the decision whether they would or they would not want to sell it off to locals or to foreigners,” he added.
“As it stands now, we have four applications, four partners – they have all submitted (their proposals). The details of the proposal and a recommendation would be made from the Committee to the Government of Grenada for accepting one of those proposals”, he said.
Minister Bowen dropped hints that is more than likely that the private sector concern to be chosen will have a 70% shareholding interest in the new arrangement for Gravel & Concrete.
“…It may work out to a 70/30. 70% in control of the private party and
because Government will put in the lands and so we will get the 30 (%) because the private partner must now invest at least 30 million dollars for new trucks,” he said.
The entity selected to run Gravel and Concrete will be made known to the public soon.
According to the senior government minister, the Corporation is in dire straits to the point that it lacks trucks to supply concrete to the public.
“We have the work to supply… We could supply the CCC farm roads project but as we stand now, we are asking CCC to (take) over the trucks to repair them so that they can get their own supply – that’s where we at”,. he said.
The senior government minister also admitted that the products offered by the Corporation to the public are suspect.
He spoke of equipment at the plant being 30-40 years old and more modern trucks and a batching plant are needed for Gravel & Concrete to be able to compete in the ready mix concrete business.
The corporation has been forced to concentrate on only the sale of gravel and aggregates to bring in the bulk of its revenue.
Insiders at Gravel & Concrete have said that the state-owned body has not been able to import sand in the country for sale to the public in recent months due to a severe cash flow problem