GUYSUCO’s budgetary allocation targets self-sufficiency, keeping estates alive – Dr Thomas

The $6.3 billion budgetary allocation to the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) for 2018 will go towards the restructuring process and keeping three identified sugar estates alive, Chairman of the Board Dr. Clive Thomas has said.

As GuySuCo continues on the path towards diversification and self-sufficiency, the multi-billion allocation will be used to continue the work of the three estates government has identified to keep the industry afloat.

Dr. Thomas said GuySuCo was required to prepare its three-year plan towards self-sufficiency. The funds allocated will aid in this process, he said.

“We have had to prepare a three-year plan going to 2020, and that’s the year we expect to be roughly self-sufficient… Over the transitioning period, we are hoping to get some financing from government and the commitment we asked for this year is $6.3 billion,” he told DPI at his office.

Dr. Thomas reminded that the corporation has extracted over $30 billion from the government over the last two years funds which he stressed, were excessive.

He spoke to the diversification plans within the estate, including proposals to produce white sugar, which investment funds are needed for. The development of some primary energy projects with the use of bagasse is also being explored, Professor Thomas told DPI. This plan has fostered some investment discussion with a French company that is interested in producing briquets, he informed.

According to Dr. Thomas, by the end of 2017, GuySuCo hopes to be able to take on more responsibilities for its earnings from the sale of sugar and other products to finance the operation of the sugar industry.

“It continues to finance the operations of GuySuCo to fill the efforts we are undertaking to make the existing estates we plan to keep more efficient.”

Last Monday, Minister of Finance Winston Jordan announced the provision to the industry, noting that government’s intensified focus on diversification and value-added production in the non-sugar agriculture sector has become absolutely critical at this point as the sugar industry continues to undergo restructuring.

He said it is key to ensuring that the sector remains productive and growth-stimulating.

According to Minister Jordan, the Special Purposes Unit (SPU) in 2018, will be tasked with examining and articulating the way forward with respect to the divestment of the Skeldon, Rose Hall, and East Demerara estates. With respect to the remaining estates, the SPU he said, will also work to reconfigure operations to guarantee economic viability.

“Our taxpayers must no longer be burdened to carry the weight of an unprofitable, inefficient, and antiquated public corporation. The government has allocated $6.3 billion, in 2018, to support the reduced operations of GuySuCo,” the Minister said.

Minister Jordan said government intends to uphold its duty to the communities and families in the areas affected by divestment, as part of the GuySuCo restructuring.