By Kurt Campbell
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Outgoing President of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) Clinton Urling, while delivering a comprehensive overview of the Chamber’s position in relation to the $220B National 2014 Budget, has criticized the administration for its annual subvention to the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo).
The government, in a similar fashion as years passed, has allocated $6B dollars to the industry, one which has been underperforming as a result of many challenges over the years.
At a press conference on Friday, March 28 Urling told reporters that the subvention is necessary, considering the state of the agency and the consequential social and economic consequences were it to stumble further.
However, he believes, “Annual government subventions to GuySuCo are unsustainable strategy,” Urling said, adding that “measures would have to be put in place to diversify the products manufactured by the entity.”
Among his recommendations for helping the industry to become self-sufficient is for underperforming estates to be sold or offered at concessionary rental to multinational firms looking to invest and set up their manufacturing and industrial operations.
“This would absorb any employment that is lost as a result of the estates’ closure.”
He made it clear that the closure of these estates should not be arbitrary in any way, neither the disapproval of the $6B for the agency by the combined parliamentary opposition.
The combined Opposition over the last two years had reduced significantly so, allocations by the administration to GuySuCo.
Urling says the Opposition must give good reason if it disapproves the $6B dollars while at the same time the administration must provide and explain its strategy for diversifying and making the industry self-sufficient.
Opposition Leader David Granger, moments after the budget was presented had said that his Party will be looking at the allocations for sugar and energy to ensure that ‘good money is not thrown after bad’.
On this note, Urling had welcomed the subsidies for the Guyana Power and Light (GPL) and he pointed to the existing high cost of fuel and electricity generation which have been burdensome on consumers and will continue to be if not for subsidies.
In terms of the Linden electricity subsidy, the GCCI believes that the administration should have taken the opportunity to tie the subsidy and declare Linden as an electricity free manufacturing zone to encourage manufacturers to set up operations and pursue the industrial diversification of the economy.