Ramjattan calls for removal of GuySuCo CEO over fallout with Board members

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…says if not too late Govt should halt purchase of articulated tractors

The Alliance For Change – the minority party in the Opposition APNU/AFC coalition – has called for the removal of Chief Executive Officer of the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) Sasenarine Singh over his recent fallout with certain Board members.

Earlier this week, GuySuCo’s Vice Chairman, Anthony Vieira, resigned from the Board of Directors, saying that he was not happy with the direction in which the sugar corporation was going. His resignation followed a heated confrontation with Singh at a recent meeting over their disagreements on the purchase of tractors for GuySuCo.

In a leaked audio recording from the meeting, Singh and Vieira were heard having a heated exchange during which inappropriate name-calling was used by the CEO.

As a result of that showdown, AFC Leader Khemraj Ramjattan at a press conference on Friday, reiterated calls for the removal of the GuySuCo CEO. He contended that the fallout was inevitable.

“The misbehaviour of the CEO at this Board meeting should see him sanctioned,” Ramjattan stated.

In fact, he reminded that his party has always contended that Singh, a former AFC Executive Member, was unsuitable to head the troubled sugar company.

“…There is sufficient to see him being compelled to send in his resignation as CEO. Sugar with Sasenarine certainly has no future. The AFC had indicated that the CEO is an unsuitable candidate for the governance and the administration of GuySuCo. He knew nothing about sugar,” the AFC leader posited.

Articulated tractors

In a letter to the editor earlier this week, Vieira explained that he did not agree with GuySuCo’s decision to purchase 22 articulated tractors but wanted the Corporation to continue using John Deere fixed-frame tractors.

“We, therefore, objected to it and the matter went to the President. The President instructed that we should only buy two and do a trial adjudicated by the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), the two machines were bought and the trial was done at Albion,” Vieira wrote.

However, he claimed that at the trial, no representatives from John Deere nor members of the Board, including himself, were present. He also claimed that during the test, a two-year-old John Deere machine was put to compete with a brand-new articulated tractor. He cited these, and other factors, in his decision to quit.

But the GuySuCo CEO denied claims of collusion or deception when it comes to the field test for tractors before they were procured. He explained that the test was done by independent engineers and the field trial lasted a year.

According to Singh, this not only means that they took their time to conduct the trial and come up with their conclusion, but also that Board Members could not be invited to the trials. In fact, Singh said that he himself was not invited. This, the CEO outlined, was important so that the engineers chosen to do their work could maintain their independence.

Nevertheless, Ramjattan on Friday went on to call on the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government to intervene and halt the purchase of the articulated-type of tractors.

“I hope that the Government intervenes and do not waste our taxpayers’ dollars… So, the Government, at least, should put a halt on the purchases of any more of the tractors; that is, if the purchases have not been made already by the CEO. But if it has not been made and only two of the ‘Game’ tractors were bought well then certainly, the Government should ensure that no further [purchases are made] and that there should be a more comprehensive measure of whether the John Deere is better than the articulated tractors,” the AFC leader asserted.

Moreover, he went on to highlight that notwithstanding the issue with the purchase of these tractors, the sugar industry has much bigger problems to deal with.

“If you’re going to have polarisation to the extent whereby ‘prostitute talk’ is going to be carried out on such an important Board as GuySuCo then, look the Government not only gotta stop tractor purchases but it must knock off Sasenarine Singh. He is showing that he is incompetent and is not listening to his Board members… He is not fit to be the CEO of GuySuCo as we have said a long, long time ago,” Ramjattan declared.

Back in June, President Irfaan Ali had called executives and managers of the Sugar Corporation to State House, where he had met with them and expressed the need for sweeping changes at GuySuCo to improve efficiency and accelerate their timelines for mechanisation of the estates.