By Tracey Khan – Drakes
[www.inewsguyana.com] –The United Kingdom’s newly appointed High Commissioner to Guyana, Gregory James Quinn believes that the sugar industry is an important fabric of the Guyanese society.
As such, he is of the view that investments should continue to be made in the industry to ensure it survives. He noted that what has occurred and affected the local industry negatively should no longer be the focus; instead stakeholders should look at ways in which they can sustain sugar.
“Sugar is a vital industry for Guyana, the same way rice is a vital industry and gold is a vital industry,” he told reporters recently.
According to the UK envoy, looking at viable solutions for the industry’s sustainability is critical if government is to stop giving subsidies to the ailing industry.
“Moving on is key and one way in which this can be done is to figure out how to make the sugar industry here as good and as efficient as it can possibly be in light of what is quiet a low sugar price and challenges to sugar industry globally.
“But there is always ways in which you can improve the efficiency of industries to make sure the return need is as good as possible and I think that’s what we need to look at going forward.”
High Commissioner Quinn also announced that the allocations of European Development Fund (EDF) will be done more strategically towards the industry as against being paid to the consolidated fund when it is released.
Meanwhile, he also spoke about the concerns over the continued withholding of the last tranche of the EDF to Guyana, noting that it was a decision which was taken by the European Union and not the UK.
“It’s not my decision to release the funding, it’s a decision which was made in Brussels…the UK is but one country of 28 EU member states, we can’t block things by ourselves…the decision not to disperse that last tranche of money was one that was made by the 28 member states in Brussels.”
He could not say when that money would be released. Earlier this year, the EU announced that it has temporarily put on hold its two latest partial payments, Euro$28.9M for the local sugar sector and $14.8M for sea defence works.
The EU had said that the hold on the payments would be done until all eligibility criteria, including budget oversight, are satisfactorily addressed.