Reiterates that the Industry is Being Reformed not Shut Down
GEORGETOWN, Guyana – President David Granger, underscoring the importance of
the state-owned Guyana sugar Company, (GUYSUCO), says his administration is
committed to retaining jobs in a re-organised sugar industry.
“We have said that we are not shutting down the sugar industry. It is being reformed
and we are bent on maintaining larger estates in East Berbice, West Berbice and West
Demerara at Albion, Blairmont and at Uitvlugt,” President Granger told reporters.
He said the production target set for this year is between 147,000 to 150,000 tons of
sugar while maintaining 10,000 employees within the industry.
Granger said that while a new chief executive officer has been named for the cash-
strapped GUYSUCO, a board of directors has not yet been named and reiterated that
the company must be managed on a profitable basis.
He said in the past there has been “temptation” to select to GUYSUCO’s board
“persons who might be socially prominent.”
He said, “This is a business, this is an international industry. We have to compete with
other sugar producers…around the world and we need to have a serious board and a
serious CEO, and we are working towards having an industry that profitably produces.”
He said in addition, GUYSUCO will now be entrusted in a State Lands Sale
“As far as the closures are concerned, the lands will now be subject to the lands
jurisdiction of a State Land Sales Commission of which the Special Purpose Unit (SPU)
under National Industrial & Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) will have
representation,” the President noted.
“The idea is we would not sell off the family jewels, we will make sure that the lands
that are being taken out of sugar are placed to the benefit of people of Guyana as a
whole,” he added.
Granger said that the State Land Sales Commission will be responsible for reconciling
the differences among the various agencies that will seek to obtain lands that would not
be going back into sugar. He said the Commission will at the same time seek to make
a profit from the disposal of the lands.
“There is a future for sugar. We have put out a Green Paper. It has gone to the
National Assembly. We have had meetings with the Guyana Agriculture Workers Union
(GAWU) and with National Association of Agricultural, Commercial and Industrial
Employees (NACCIE) and we want to see the sugar industry survive but a more
compact, better-managed sugar industry,” the President said.
At the end of 2016, four estates were closed in a major cost-cutting exercise to reduce
the billions of dollars that consecutive governments have been pouring into the
industry. To date, redundant workers have been paid at least 50 per cent of severance
pay due to them while it is expected that the remaining payouts can be achieved by
year-end. – CMC