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While briefly addressing the recently appointed Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) Board of Directors at their first official meeting, Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha reminded the members of the task ahead of them.
“One of the most important tasks of this Board is to ensure that you bring to reality, the commitments that were made by the Government of Guyana to ensure we sustain sugar, and also that we re-open those estates that were closed. You have to look at the importance of the industry to workers, the communities and our country. We have a lot of ‘doom seers’ and ‘naysayers’ saying that Government is putting money into a black hole. Government does not, and will never see GuySuCo, and the sugar industry as a black hole,” Minister Mustapha is quoted in a Department of Public Information release as saying.
He further reminded the Board Members that the expectations for the industry are high and that the sector currently faces several challenges, both locally and internationally.
“The Role of this Board is to positively turn the industry around in the wake of several notable challenges. Locally, the cost of production has to be addressed. We also have to ensure that we break even and eventually become profitable. The Board must, at all times, cooperate with management to set in motion the re-opening of the closed estates while sustaining the estates that are still operating,” Minister Mustapha said.
The subject Minister further stated a lot of capital works have to be done to re-open the closed estates.
“We know for a fact that critical capital works were denied by the previous administration. We also have to do a lot of work in the fields to ensure we get better yields and increased production levels. You also have to work towards developing a capital plan for diversification of the industry, to support sustainability and the overall expansion of the economy,” Minister Mustapha said.
The new Board Members were also encouraged to go into the communities and have engagements with residents who were both affected by the closures and set to benefit from the reopening of the estates.
“We have to look at the present state of the communities that were affected by the closure. With the re-opening of these estates, people are looking forward to their communities being re-energised, to having new areas of employment and a number of other benefits,” Minister said.
Noting the difficulty of the task ahead, Minister Mustapha told the Board of Directors that they have to find ways to ensure the vision of the Government to resuscitate the industry is manifested.
“Government remains committed to supporting GuySuCo with the necessary resources to propel the sector. We can already see a positive turnaround is happening and that the sector is already in an upward trajectory. In budget 2020, Government has allocated $3B for the recapitalisation of GuySuCo and an additional $2 billion as required,” the Minister said.
Minister Mustapha, while congratulating the team, said that in making his selection, His Excellency, Dr. Irfaan Ali noted that the newly appointed members had the sound knowledge, understanding, experience and expertise in the sector to make the transformative impact the Government requires.
“After taking into consideration all those things, we determined that you all have what it takes to take GuySuCo forward. President Irfaan Ali and the entire Government have full confidence in the members of this Board, and your ability to improve the performance of the industry over time,” Minister Mustapha said.
In closing, Minister Mustapha told the team that they have the opportunity to validate Government’s decision to resuscitate the sector.
“You have the chance to justify that taxpayers’ monies used to support a sector, that remains a pillar of hope to this country, is warranted. I am confident that you can do it,” Minister Mustapha said.
The new GuySuCo Board of Directors are Mr. Pravinchandra Dave, Mr. Tarachand Balgobin, Mr. Anthony Vieira, Mr. Aslim Singh, Mr. Ramesh Persaud, Mr. Roy Hanuman, Ms. Shameera Evans, Ms. Shaleeza Shaw, Mr. Paul Cheong, Mr. Desmond Sears and Mr. Mohamed Rafeek.3