−report for Cabinet before funding
The Government intends to reopen the Enmore, Rose Hall and Skeldon sugar estates, but the decision on which will open first depends on a survey currently being conducted by the Ministry of Agriculture.
Line Minister, the Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha said funds would be disbursed after detailed inspections, an investigation of the closed estates, and an official report is submitted to Cabinet.
“Within two weeks we should have a plan. We should have that conditional survey which I will present to Cabinet; then we will disburse funds in these areas. But rest assured, the reopening of these sugar estates is a reality now,” Minister Mustapha said on a Budget 2020 programme aired on the National Communications Network (NCN).
He added that an evaluation of the infrastructure must be done because the factories were abandoned after being closed.
“We have to look at what is needed in the factory. We have to also look at the fields which is very important because we can’t have a factory without having canes in the fields to supply the factory. Infrastructure – we have to look at the dams, we have to look at the canals, bridges, conditioning the fields to replant because these fields were abandoned…Reopening of these estates will be in a phased basis,” Minister Mustapha said.
Meanwhile, the Minister reiterated that GuySuCo would have a new Board of Directors to oversee its management, which had been a major concern.
“We are on the verge of naming the directors on the Board of GuySuCo, and we put people there who know about finance, who know about cane production; those are the expertise we are looking for. I am not looking at political affiliation, I am looking at people who have the knowledge, who can make the contribution to enhance these sectors,” Minister Mustapha said.
The former APNU+AFC administration closed the four sugar estates following the advice of institutions including the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which advocated for a scaled-down sugar industry since it was determined that it was too costly to upkeep production at competitive rates.
However, the PPP/C Government, while in Opposition, committed to reopen the estates and re-employ the approximately 4,000 employees. Then Opposition Leader, now Vice President, the Hon. Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo had said that the PPP/C Government would explore all forms of partnerships, along with innovative financing and investments to get the estates up and running.
GuySuCo is currently using three estates for production: Uitvlugt at West Demerara and Blairmont and Albion in Berbice. In addition to reopening the estates, the Government also plans on planting non-traditional crops at the Wales Sugar Estate.