On December 31, 2017, consultations commenced between the Government, the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo), the Opposition and Unions on the future GuySuCo and sugar.
The stakeholders were presented with the proposed options for GuySuCo and have undertaken to study the documents and the implications after which a submission of possible additional ideas would have been made to expand the range of options so that an agreed position could be decided on in a timely manner on the future of GuySuCo.
The Government in a recent release stated that it was concerned that no response has been provided by the Opposition or the Unions which could be tabled for consideration.
“It is important that the process of consultations be condensed, particularly since there are significant financial, economic and social implications attached to an extended delayed process for consultations” the release stated.
However, the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU), one of the Unions involved in the discussions, said that it was surprised and taken aback to learn that Government expressed concern that no response was provided, since they (GAWU) were awaiting information they requested from Government before proceeding.
Accroding to GAWU, Government made commitments at the December meeting to supply all documentation and other relevant information that may be requested by the Unions and the PPP/C. This would be done through State Minister Joseph Harmon.
The Union said that it wrote to the Minister requesting thirty-one (31) items which included reports and certain information to aid in “our urgent analyses and thus allowing us to arrive at positions for presentation to the Government at the next meeting. To date, no information has been received.”
According to the Union, Governments concerns are therefore “misleading and not reflective of what is really the current situation and the Government’s spokesperson is being obviously misinformed.”
“Our Union is committed to finding workable solutions to safeguard the sugar industry and protect the livelihoods of the thousands who are directly and indirectly dependent on its operations. The data we have sought is crucial for the Union to be in a state of preparedness. It is hoped that this will suffice” said GAWU.
The Government says it has presented a number of alternatives to keep the Corporation afloat including diversification of its activities which has been shared with stakeholders. “If a decision is not made on a way forward as a matter of urgency, the future of the sugar industry would be jeopardized.”
GuySuCo has requested $G18 billion from the Government for 2017. However, the National Assembly had only approved $G 9 billion of which G$3 billion has already been disbursed and utilized by GuySuCo. The remaining G$ 6B is due for disbursement in March, 2017.
According to the Government release it is evident, in view of the amount of its financial commitments, unless a decision is made on the future of GuySuCo, the cash strapped corporation will only continue to be a state liability.
A silver lining
Meanwhile, Srinath Ispat Limited, a firm based in India with extensive knowledge of the sugar industry, will be in Guyana from Monday, January 23, 2017 to have dialogue with the Guyana Government on possible investments in the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo).
The cash strapped entity has for a number of years been requiring bailouts from the state’s coffers and Government says it has been looking to attract not only new markets, but possible investments.
This publication was informed that the delegation will be led by Rajesh Kumar Agarwal, President of Integrated Casetech Consultants PV T. LTD and Tony Joseph, Managing Director of Sunrise Holdings and will see visits being done to major sugar estates, prior to meetings with the Government.