The closure of the Wales sugar estate could have possibly been avoided if some of the money used to rehabilitate the Skeldon factory, were diverted to the former.
According to Minister of Agriculture, Noel Holder, the Skeldon factory could have been made functional at one -third of its cost to modernise its operation. An estimated US$230 Million has been spent thus far on the factory which is still to become profitable.
The Minister said that if the Skeldon factory was “well thought out, especially the field component” and the previous government had gotten the best persons to construct it, the Berbice estate would have been better off. The Agriculture Minister opined that an Indian company which had actual experience in such types of construction would have been a better choice.
It has been explained by the Guyana Sugar Corporation’s (GuySuCo’s) management that the decision to close the Wales estate at the end of the second crop of 2016, was due solely for economic reasons. The cost to fix the defects of the Wales factory and install modern equipment such as new boilers has been estimated to cost around $2 billion or US$10 million. GuySuCo’s Chief Executive Officer Errol Hanoman has indicated that the company must operate more efficiently if it is to return to a state of profitability.
Closing the Wales estate has been on the cards for some time now. In a release issued on Monday, the Ministry of Agriculture noted that the management of GuySuCo had been diverting funds from high performing estates to prop up the poor ones. Management has stated that continuing this practice would put the future of the entire sugar industry in jeopardy.