Govt’s scant regard for Sugar industry evident by absence of GuySuCo Board- GAWU

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GAWU General Secretary Seepaul Narine

The “shifting goalpost” with regards to the establishment of a new Board for the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) by the Coalition Administration demonstrates that only “a glancing concern- if so much-, is being paid to the operations of the sugar industry and the well-being of the thousands who still depend on the industry for their livelihood and well-being.”

This is according to to the General Secretary of the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU), Seepaul Narine who penned a letter to the press on Thursday.

“Media reports had indicated Minister of Agriculture, Noel Holder last saying that the Board would have been appointed at the end of June, 2018. We recall prior to that he had said that the Board would have been in place by the end of May, 2018. Previously, there were other timelines that were set and simply ignored,” GAWU noted.

According to the entity, it is their firm belief that the naming of members of the GuySuCo Board is not as difficult a task as the Government is making it out to be.

“Therefore, we are at a loss for the protracted delay in the appointment of the Board especially at a time when the Corporation requires decisive and competent leadership. At this time, when the Corporation has secured a $30B bond financing package aimed at turning the industry around the absence of a capable Board is especially disturbing,” the Union said, while noting that based on their information, “no plan has been presented that will guide the expenditure of this significant sum which has to be repaid with interest.”

As such, GAWU has once again renewed its calls for Government, and more so the Agriculture Minister, Noel Holder “to bring the charade to an end and to appoint a capable, competent and respectable Board that will enjoy the support of the workers and that will be able to guide and lead the Corporation at this time.”

Late last April, Holder revealed that Cabinet was looking at some new names for the new Board.

SPU Head, Colvin Heath-London

Two weeks later, NICIL published the names of the new Board, naming the Head of the Special Purpose Unit (SPU) Colvin Heath-London as Chairman.

A full-page ad had detailed that the new Board was approved by Cabinet on February 26, 2018.

However, Minister of State, Joseph Harmon had said the same day that there were some issues with regard to the timing of the ad and Cabinet was reviewing the matter.

Despite these statements, Government had made it clear that the Board of Directors of GuySuCo, headed by Professor Clive Thomas, is the legitimate one.

The life of that Board expired on February 14 2018.

The new Board, which was named with Heath-London as the head was gazetted at the Deeds and Commercial Registry.

When questioned recently on the appointment of the new Board, acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of GuySuCo, Paul Bhim was quoted in the media as saying that GuySuCo is still operating without a Board.

In fact, reports had surfaced about disagreements allegedly between Ministers from the two coalition parties regarding the chairmanship and members of the GuySuCo Board.

Only recently Opposition Leader Dr Bharrat Jagdeo noted that months had already passed and the Government was still to decide on a new Board for GuySuCo.

He noted also that because of the ad-hoc manner in which this once very important sector of the local economy is being handled, there was no doubt that things could only get worse.

“How does Government’s actions inspire any confidence? We might just have a collapse of what is left,” Jagdeo, making reference to the remaining sugar estates, said.

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