… if anyone is to apologize, it is Yesu PersaudA war of words has erupted between the Guyana Office For Investment (GO-Invest) and the Private Sector Commission (PSC) following a recent press release calling for an apology by President Bharrat Jagdeo to businessman Yesu Persaud.According to GO-Invest, the press release issued Tuesday confirms that a “very small cabal of self-appointed business leaders would go to great lengths to mislead the public about the Government of Guyana’s statements on the privatisation of Sanata and the overall operation of our tax laws, while remaining silent on other important issues facing the private sector.” GO-Invest replied in a statement of its own,yesterday, that in particular, the silence of the PSC when the Queens Atlantic Investment Inc (QAII),a major private sector company committed to investing US$30M and employing over 600 persons to work in South Georgetown, was being attacked by certain media houses. “Instead, the PSC now finds it appropriate to issue a press release demanding an apology to Mr. Yesu Persaud while ignoring the context of Mr. Persaud’s statements.”According to GO-Invest, the PSC statement refers to the Ministry of Finance press release of June 16, 2008 and tries to make a nexus between the decision to privatize the Sanata Complex and Guyana’s tax laws. “In fact, as has long been established, the entire privatisation was conducted in accordance with open and transparent processes including public advertisements on no less than 20 occasions.“In addition,it was the government, through the Privatisation Unit and GO-Invest, at the May 19 Press Conference that voluntarily announced the full privatization details and the tax concessions.”The reality is that some of the answers had to be forced out of the hosts of the press conference. None readily admitted that Sanata would be offered for sale once the investor spent US$27 million.GO-Invest stated that the PSC insinuation that the privatization did not conform with the requirements of Guyana’s existing laws is therefore totally dishonest and reflects ignorance of the privatization framework. “While the PSC calls for an apology to be made to Mr. Persaud, it is in fact Mr. Persaud who owes an apology to the hosts and their guests at the launching of the Guyana Times for insulting them through thinly disguised innuendoes and insinuations about the manner in which they conducted their negotiations with the Government.”The statement questioned whether Persaud, who is also head of soft drink and rum giant, Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL), would have liked it if at a DDL function, a person invited to speak on the official programme was to abuse the privilege afforded to him by casting aspersions against the company.“The bottom line is that Mr. Persaud inappropriately and discourteously suggested that the principals of Queens Atlantic Investment Inc. received special treatment in the transaction with the government. It is particularly ironic that this is coming from Mr. Yesu Persaud,given that his companies have benefited from similar concessions in the past,including special support.”Citing the example, GO-Invest said that the Decipher International Medical Transcription pioneering project was granted a tax holiday and other special support such as rent-free space, a training subsidy of $19 million, and the furnishing of the centre with computers and workstations.“All of the equipment and a vehicle were granted duty-free and tax-free concessions. In addition, most of the expansion and new projects of DDL were granted exemptions of Customs Duty, VAT and Excise Tax on machinery, equipment and vehicles.”It is interesting to note, the agency pointed out, that the PSC did not see it fit to comment on the loss of the US$12 million distillery project which could have provided Guyana’s sugar industry with an opportunity to improve the industry’s viability.This major investment was stymied by DDL’s legal action against GuySuCo, thereby disadvantaging tens of thousands of workers in the sugar industry.“This latest statement by the PSC reveals the misplaced priorities of some among its leadership, who consider it more important to call for an apology to Mr. Yesu Persaud than to express a view on the several other more important issues, including the fact that this investment by QAII is a most welcome investment in Guyana.”GO-Invest stressed that fortunately, all objective observers would know that the authors of the PSC release are few in number and are not representative of Guyana’s dynamic and growing private sector, the overwhelming majority of whom enjoy genuine working relationships with Government,based on mutual respect.On Tuesday,the PSC called for an apology to Persaud following what they described as a public “hostile” attack on him during the launching of the Guyana Times newspaper, one of the ventures of the QAII in the Sanata deal.Last year, Government privatised the sprawling Sanata complex at Industrial Site, Ruimveldt, to QAII,the owner of the New Guyana Pharmaceutical Corporation.However, the concessions and terms of the deal met with much criticisms and government had called press conferences and issued several statements on the deal.QAII was expected to revitalize the textile mill and open a medical research and development facility,among other things at the site.