…though PwC valuation report still to be made publicThough a report on the valuation of the assets of the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) has not yet been released, Government is optimistic that the divestment process can begin in a matter of months.In a sit down with the media after signing a loan agreement on Friday, Finance Minister Winston Jordan was asked for an update on the divestment process. In his response, he noted that Government is optimistic of starting in the first half of 2019, a fact expressed by President David Granger.“We expect by the first half of next year to divest some of the estates,” Jordan said, adding “I will speak with (Special Purpose Unit head Colvin Heath-London) to see if we have any further updates. Otherwise, the next update perhaps will be in the budget speech, in terms of where we are and what we expect.”The parliamentary Opposition has been calling on the Government to publicise the PriceWaterhouse Coopers (PwC) valuation report into GuySuCo’s assets. The valuation was supposed to have preceded the sale of the various estates and accompanying assets.That process has already started; however, neither the Government nor the accounting firm has released the document. At a recent press conference, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo zeroed in on this state of affairs.“We were told that before any decision was made, that PriceWaterhouse Coopers will do a valuation of assets. Where is the valuation of the assets and why don’t they release it to the Guyanese public, so we will see what they have valued the assets of GuySuCo at and whether we come close to realising that value,” Jagdeo had said.“Or if they have undervalued the assets of GuySuCo and then would claim that they got more than the valuation. We’d like to see a copy of the report. But it seems as though its done secretly and we don’t know what assurances are given by PwC and SPU, whether those are assurances Cabinet has agreed to,” the Opposition Leader added.SeveranceJordan was also asked about the payment of severances. He noted that the supplementary paper must be approved for the severance to be paid. He also noted that when Government paid its first tranche, many workers received their full severance.“We said once the Parliament passes the supplementary and the President signs the supplementary appropriations Act, they will be paid. We will transfer the money. My understanding is that they already have the sheets ready.”“In January, we had said we were going to make the payments in two parts, because we didn’t have the monies to make severance. We said at the time that those owed $500,000 or less, we would pay fully. So nobody got less than $500,000, if you were at $500,000 or above. So a significant number of sugar workers were paid their full severance.”Jordan reminded that Government had promised to make the remainder of the severance available by the second half of 2018. He noted that the year is not finished, but assured that Government would remain on this timeline.Earlier this month, Government tabled a financial paper seeking parliamentary approval for $2.4 billion to pay-off hundreds of sugar workers. This was even as several sugar workers protested in front of Parliament. Of the $7.5 billion financial paper totalled, $2.4 billion was set aside for severance pay.In May 2017, Government announced plans to close the Enmore and Rose Hall Sugar Estates, sell the Skeldon Sugar Factory, reduce the annual production of sugar, and take on the responsibility of managing the drainage and irrigation services offered by GuySuCo.In November of that year, GuySuCo announced plans to retrench 2500 workers by the end of that year. That number increased substantially and ended up being over 7000.