Govt selling New GPC stake
Stabroek News
December 31, 2001

The government is selling its remaining 30 per cent in the New Guyana Pharmaceutical Corporation (GPC) to the majority shareholder, the Ramroop Group, which will now have a 90 per cent stake in the company.

Workers at the company hold the remaining 10 per cent. The sale price Stabroek News understands is around $200 million. In October 1999, 60% of the old GPC was sold to the Ramroop Group for $455 million.

Stabroek News understands that the sale agreement was signed on Friday and the announcement should be made sometime this week.

There are some conditions to be satisfied by the company before the deal is finalized. Stabroek News has so far been unable to confirm what these conditions are.

Under the original privatization agreement, the Ramroop Group was given the right of first refusal if the government decided to sell its stake in the company.

One of the unions representing the workers at the New GPC, the Clerical and Commercial Workers Union (CCWU) is less than sanguine about the sale, which it knew nothing about. Grantley Culbard, the CCWU general secretary, told Stabroek News that the sale to the Ramroop Group could pose a bit of a problem for the unions. The other union representing the GPC workers is the Guyana Labour Union (GLU). Its general secretary, Carvil Duncan is the president of the Trades Union Congress (TUC).

Culbard explained that the unions' concern is about the observance by the majority shareholder of the agreement to continue the pension arrangements that obtained before the company was privatized. Stabroek News was unable to reach any member of the GPC management yesterday for a comment.

Culbard said that the issue has been raised with the Privatisation Unit and that it had promised to remind the company of its undertaking. He said that if the government has sold its share there might not be that continuing interest in ensuring that the commitment is met. There is at present no workers' representative on the GPC board, according to Culbard, but he said that there was a works council on which representatives of both unions sit.

He said that a meeting was planned for today between the General Secretary of the TUC, Lincoln Lewis and representatives of the GLU and CCWU to discuss the pension issue and a suitable course of action.

New GPC recently announced that it would be producing generic drugs to treat HIV/AIDS.