The report of the Commission of Inquiry into the operations of the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) was last evening laid in the National Assembly by Agriculture Minister Noel Holder. The report has several recommendations which are expected to be implemented in the coming year.
In his remarks during the presentation, the Minister referred to the manifesto promise by the Coalition Government of the convening of a COI to review, analyse and recommend the way forward for the sugar industry. This included options for infusing critical investments and the optimum utilisation of its valuable capital infrastructure.
The assignment was scheduled to be completed over a period of 92 days, commencing July 1 through September 30, 2015, and for the submissions of their initial findings to the Minister of Agriculture for review by Cabinet within 70 days of commencement.
Minister Holder explained that the government has, therefore, taken the decision to facilitate the widest possible consultations with all stakeholders in the charting of GuySuco’s future.
“To this end, and to commence the process of maximum consultation with the people of Guyana, the very comprehensive Report of the Commission of Inquiry is now being laid before Parliament for due consideration.”
Minister Holder reported that GuySuco has been producing over recent years, less and less sugar at greater unit and total cost, while its unit sale price has been declining. The logic of such a sequence is that GuySuCo has reached a point of no return.
“It can remain open for business over the short to medium – term in only one of two possible ways. These are either through the provision of regular official bailouts and/or increased borrowings and indebtedness, based on government guarantees. Clearly neither of these is sustainable, given GuySuCo’s present indebtedness,” he told the House.
Minister Holder further advised that the Government of Guyana wishes to develop a plan to return the industry to profitability, and assure its long – term environmental and economic sustainability.
Updating the National Assembly on the current status of the industry, the Minister explained that the Government and Board have been very supportive and allowed the new management team which was installed on June 04, 2015 to get on with the job.
“Generally, staff has been responding well to the new administration of the industry, morale is considerably better and there is a growing sense of achievement, optimism and self-confidence as evidenced by the industry achieving, and surpassing, its production target for the first time since 2004.”
GuySuCo ended 2015 with 231,145 tonnes of sugar, 3,702 more tonnes than it had set as its target. The second crop realised 150,007 tonnes, surpassing the set target of 146,300.
The sugar industry with its almost 17,000 employees and approximately 60,000 dependents is a major source of foreign exchange for Guyana’s economy.