Agriculture Minister Clarence Rambharat yesterday dismissed reports that former People’s National Movement treasurer Andre Monteil is the leading bidder to manage the Aripo Livestock Station which spans over 1,000 acres.
Rambharat was responding to claims from the president of the T&T Farmers’ Union Shiraz Khan. Khan had called on Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley to name the investors who submitted bids to manage the State-owned station a public/private arrangement, as reports had surfaced that Monteil was leading the list of bidders to operate the State-owned station.
In part two of his report to the nation on Monday, Rowley revealed that the Government intended to reduce the food import bill, ramp up livestock production and create employment through this new venture.
“Strictly speaking, it is not good business for the Government to be milking and changing cows. That is better done by the private sector,” Rowley said.
The Government, Rowley said, approached the private sector asking if they had the finances and skills in making full use of the station’s land. “And fortunately we got two or three bids,” the PM said.
Rowley said Cabinet has taken a decision to absorb the station’s workers in other parts of the public sector.
Yesterday, Khan objected to the move. Rambharat said an invitation for expression of interest for the project was advertised last August which attracted 13 participants who viewed the site, while seven inquired via email.
“At the end of the time fixed for responses, there were five bids. No bid was received from Andre Monteil,” Rambharat said.
Bids were submitted by Marilissa Farms, Khan’s Organic Products, UWI, CDS Group of Companies and Agri Fusion Ltd, Rambharat said.
The bids, Rambharat said will be ranked and “negotiations will be conducted with the top-ranked first,” which will be done by March 31, with the station being fully privatised by September.
- Shaliza Hassanali