September 27, 2016

Millions being lost in questionable Jamaica rice deal

…“this is a crime against Guyana, a crime against the farmers” – Dr Turhane Doerga

The lack of Government consultations with rice millers has led to a reported “corrupt contract” being signed between the

Dr Turhane Doerga

Dr Turhane Doerga

Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) and the Jamaican Rice Milling Company.
This is according to Dr Turhane Doerga, former Chief Executive Officer and senior official of Alesie Rice Company, who in an interview with Guyana Times on Tuesday described the recent Guyana-Jamaica rice deal as an example of “the most disgusting corruption going on in the agriculture sector.”
The Government through the GRDB inked the deal between the Jamaican Rice Milling Company on March 1, 2016, committing to purchase 40,000 metric tonnes per annum. The deal has a life span of three years and can be reviewed every quarter.
The deal gives the buyer the option to purchase 10,000 metric tonnes per quarter and it was agreed that any unused portion could be taken up by another buyer so designated to work with the GRDB in Jamaica.
Giving his assessment of the deal and the price agreed upon, Doerga, who also serves as Rice Producers Association Action Committee Co-Chairman said the “in between” mark-up on the contract is corrupt as US$75 will be made per metric tonne for the broker.
“When you look at the price bracket, you will see that they are selling to Jamaica for US$400 but anybody who wants to sell there has to sell minimum 1500 metric tonnes at US$475… so the US$75 per metric tonne is what the boys will be splitting among each other,” he explained.
He further pointed out that “75x 80.000×3” equates to US$18 million that will be allocated to “the boys” and not rice farmers who have been facing hardships in the deteriorating rice industry.
“Having a broker in between is the same thing like other deals, the money will be split outside of it… this is a crime against Guyana, a crime against the farmers,” he posited.
Doerga disclosed that the broker (name withheld) who did not actually sign the contract had her signature borne on the price schedules document. Guyana Times understands that the broker is an overseas-based Guyanese and a close associate of an official at the GRDB.

No consultations
“They should have consulted the millers before they signed this agreement but they were so convinced that nobody would find this thing so they went ahead and signed it,” Doerga stated.
Doegra is alleging that the deal was not authorised by the GRDB Board as such, it can be deemed “illegal”.
This publication understands that some Board members reportedly questioned the deal since they were not consulted about the contract’s signing. Additionally, another Board member said they (the Board) were “not going to take responsibility” for the deal being inked.
Doerga is of the opinion that the Government, through the GRDB is “robbing farmers”.

Parent company
Jamaica Rice Milling’s parent entity, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) Company has had a number of legal issues over the years.
This publication came across a New York Times article published October 15, 1996 under the headline: “Archer Daniels agrees to big fine for price fixing” and had paid $100 million in fines which at that time, was the largest ever the Justice Department had obtained.
“The risk that Guyana runs is that if they don’t supply this rice over a three-year period, we might have a claim in a court in America and we will have to pay it because the company is connected to the United States,” Doegra said with respect to the parent company’s past infringements.
To this end, Doerga is calling for resignations of the GRDB Board General Manager and Agriculture Minister Noel Holder.
“I am calling on the President to call [Minister Holder] and fire him; the man is absolutely incompetent… I am calling for their dismissal and prosecution,” he noted.

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