The Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) has exceeded its production target for 2015 by over 300 tonnes as of this morning. With three estates still grinding, the corporation is likely to add a few more thousand tonnes to its total.
The second crop target was set at 146,300 tonnes and this morning the production figure was 146,583 tonnes. The year’s total was set at 227,443 tonnes and to date 227, 727 tonnes has been achieved. This would be the first time in 11 years that GuySuCo has achieved a second crop target.
Two Berbice estates, Albion and Rosehall, and Enmore are expected to continue operations until December 21.
The corporation’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr Errol Hanoman attributed this feat to the workers and management. “The team of management and workers has done a superb job, and I’m extremely pleased,” Hanoman told the Government Information Agency (GINA) this morning.
Hanoman said he hopes that at least the company can meet the 230,000- tonne mark by the end of this year and 150,000 tonnes for the second crop, before the estates complete grinding operations.
The CEO is hopeful that this is the beginning of the ‘improving trend of the corporation, but it can only be maintained if the union, the workers and management work together.”
GuySuCo requires a tremendous amount of work to reverse its fortunes, and meeting production target is only of many elements to ensure a viable corporation, he said.
Hanoman cited the corporation’s debt as one of the elements on which a lot of focus has to be placed. “Debt, cost and production… production is only one element to resolving our debt problem,” Hanoman explained.
The company’s total liabilities as at July, 2015 were pegged at $82 billion. This debt is largely due to decreasing production, rise in production costs and the recent weakening in the European Union (EU) sugar prices.
Over the past five years, the Government injected the following sums into GuySuCo; $659M in 2011, $4Billion in 2012, $5.36 Billion in 2013, $6Billion in 2014 and $12Billion in 2015 to meet operational and other costs.
Restructuring of the industry was necessary to reverse its fate and one of the first things the new Government did was to ensure better management. In this line, major changes were made in management and a new board of directors was created.
To help find out the reasons for the failing state of GuySuCo, a commission of inquiry was also appointed. Thus far, the commission has presented an interim report and Cabinet held a retreat to address the contents. An Interim Management Committee was also set up to scrutinise the operations of the Skeldon Sugar factory.
The sum of $30 billion of the company’s total debt is still unpaid loans for the Skeldon sugar factory that was opened in 2008.
Hanoman told GINA that Skeldon on Friday exceeded its target of 30,594 tonnes. In 2009, Skeldon produced 25,727 tonnes, in 2010, 33,250 tonnes; 2011, 29,410 tonnes; 2012, 33,309 tonnes; 2013, 25, 544 tonnes and 2014, 35,890 tonnes.
Asked about the corporation’s future, the CEO said that going forward, “we need a new industrial climate, and any success in the future will be the management and union working together. We need to find some enlightened strategy going forward,” he said.
The new crop is expected to begin by the end of January, 2016, and during the out-of-crop period, maintenance will be done on all the estates.
GuySuCo faced two recent strike actions one in October and the other in November, over the award of the Annual Production Incentive (API). The company offered 2.7 days API, to be paid by March 2016; however this was rejected by the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) which resorted to strike action.
After the union had called off the strike, talks resumed but ended in deadlock, hence the move to conciliation.
GuySuCo had said that had it not been for the three- day strike in October, the set production target for the second crop would have been achieved since the end of November.
The corporation is currently producing about 100,000 tonnes less sugar than it was making 13 years ago. Its performance from 2002 to 2014 is as follows: 2002 – 331,052 tonnes; 2003- 302,379 tonnes; 2004- 325,317 tonnes; 2005 – 246,071 tonnes; 2006-259,549 tonnes; 2007- 266,482 tonnes; 2008- 226, 267 tonnes; 2009 -233,736 tonnes; 2010- 220,818 tonnes; 2011- 236, 505 tonnes; 2012- 218,068 tonnes; 2013- 186,745 tonnes and 2014 -216,350 tonnes and 2015, 227,727 up to December 14.
Meanwhile the parties met with officials of the Ministry of Labour. The Chief Labour Officer is deliberating with his principals on the issue, and he is expected to return with his position on the matter to the union and GuySuCo sometime this week.