While there is no specific time given for the reopening of the sugar estates, which were closed by the APNU+AFC Coalition Government, Minister of Agriculture, the Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha, has reiterated that the new PPP/C administration is committed to revamping the industry and returning prosperity to those workers who were sacked. Speaking at a virtual press briefing today, Minister Mustapha explained that due to the incompetence and the mismanagement by the previous administration, the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) was forced into an extremely dire position.
“The Corporation will not be in a position to pay wages from the week ending 21st August. Under the previous administration, a request was made to NICIL for an amount of $1Billion, but only $550Million was received to date,” he stated.
Noting that the capital programme suffered from a lack of funding, the minister explained that from this year’s budget of $3.24Billion, the Corporation only expended $82Million due to external funding not being made available.
“There was a shortfall of 9,461 tonnes in production for the first Crop of 2020 from a target of 46,476 tonnes. Only 37,015 tonnes of sugar were produced,” Minister Mustapha relayed.
Additionally, the factories were found to be suffering from a lack of capital investment which contributed to frequent downtime. One example highlighted was the Uitvlugt factory, which was affected by several mechanical issues.
It was disclosed that achieving consistent and adequate cane supply is a problem across the industry. Also, there is a shortage of essential inputs like fertilizers and chemicals.
“The APNU+AFC Government, through NICIL, undertook a loan of $30Billion under the guise of assisting the Corporation. To date, only $10.2Billion was made available to GuySuCo. The Board received no answer as to how much was actually disbursed to NICIL and plans on repayment of the loan. To date, the Corporation has a total liability of approximately $9.5Billion,” Minister Mustapha disclosed.
He stated that the current projection shows that an additional $1.6Billion will be needed by the Corporation between now and year-end, from external funding, for capital and ongoing operational expenditure, as revenues from sugar and molasses sales will not be sufficient to cover expenses for that period.