The Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) says it was able to get a firmer understanding of plans by the Guyana Sugar Corporation Inc (GuySuCo) and the Sugar Special Purpose Unit (SPU) regarding the recently acquired $30B loan from a consortium of Banks.
According to GAWU “the Corporation advised that it is working on transforming itself from a sugar to sugar cane industry whereby it would move away from being largely a raw, bulk sugar producer to a state in which it will be producing several products and services as it seeks to diversify its revenue base.”
GAWU said this “was pleasing news, as this is the direction the Union has been stressing that the sugar industry should go for it to realize its objectives of sustainable profitability.”
Moreover, the Union said that “GuySuCo will seek to expend some $11B on capital works at the estates under the Corporation’s remit. We learnt that over 70 per cent of that sum would be spent towards improving cane production and productivity through the purchase of machines; rehabilitation of drainage and irrigation infrastructure; fixed dilapidated bridges and revetments, and improving the condition of access roads.”
GuySuCo, GAWU said, expects that the investments will lead to improved cane quantity and quality and thus higher production of sugar.
“In terms of the factory, sums will be spent on improving factory performance and reliability through the replacement and rehabilitation of certain components. Some of the monies will also be used to improve storage capacity for bagged and packaged sugar.”
Another set of monies is to be spent on the establishment of co-generation plants at Albion and Uitvlugt Estates. The company’s team reportedly explained that feasibility studies conducted have shown those ventures to be viable.
On this matter, GAWU said that it advised the Corporation that “there was need for a remunerative Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with the Guyana Power and Light Inc (GPL). We did also ask the GuySuCo whether there were any assurances that the GPL would be willing to accept its electricity recognizing several other private enterprises have so far been unsuccessful in realizing their intentions of becoming electricity providers to the power company.”
According to GAWU, another major plank of the diversification involves moving into the production of plantation white sugar.
Among other things, GAWU said they “asked about the possibility of the CARICOM Common External Tariff (CET) being applied to extra-regional white sugar. We were told that the regional sugar producers – Belize, Jamaica, and Guyana – were working together on this and expectedly soon a decision would be made. The company advised whether the CET is approved or not, it believed, it could be competitive in an open-market especially when account is taken of its other revenue streams.”
However, GAWU posited that after it asked for a copy of the plan, to allow them to have a deeper appreciation of what it is seeking to accomplish, it was told that the “plan is still being worked out but our input and views would be sought.”
According to GAWU this “was a bit surprising, especially noting that funds have been secured, the GAWU strongly contended that there was need for a workable and realistic plan taking account of all of the factors and that it cannot be a mere collection of ideas and intents.”
Nevertheless the Union said that they “are willing, if asked, to lend our voices and ideas towards having a plan that would see the industry recovering in the interest of the workers, the economy, and the country.”
In the meantime, GAWU said it “requested from GuySuCo/SPU copies of the relevant studies which are guiding its investment decisions and overarching goals. We hope that our request would be positively considered and allow us being able to get a better grip of what really would be done.”