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–AFC says ulterior motive at play to privatise industry to India, Saudi Arabia
The Alliance For Change (AFC) said on Wednesday that the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) continues to waste billions of tax payers dollars by seeking to salvage Guyana’s ailing sugar industry, finances which should go towards
In the 2021 Budget, the PPP/C Administration set aside $2B for the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) for capital projects. However, the AFC pointed out that the current Administration has spent over $7B on the industry since taking office in 2020.
In September the National Assembly had approved $3B for the Industry and, less than three months later, the Government returned to the House for another $4B in supplementary funding.
Reading a statement from the party, its leader Khemraj Ramjattan said that current path of the Government is “ill-advised” and “road to nowhere”.
“It is pouring good money into a wholly unprofitable project, just like the black hole the supposed modern Skeldon sugar factory turned out to be and which saw an excess of USD$200M going under,” he stated.
“The evidence is clear that the perennial shortage of labour will persist in this sector; that the new CEO of GuySuCo and his arrogant attitude towards experienced managers will decidedly demoralise staff and employees; and that the world market prices will continue to be half of what GuySuCo’s production costs are.”
In a Letter to the Editor on Monday, former PPP/C President Donald Ramotar who had lobbied for the revitalisation of sugar industry, said he is unimpressed with the management of the sector.
He raised the concern that GuySuCo’s current managers are more concerned with expensive vehicles and huge salaries than returning the industry to economic viability.
The task is already an uphill one as over the last 10 years, GuySuCo produced one ton of sugar at an average cost of US$747.38 at a time when the world market price for sugar stood at US$388.57.
Instead of throwing money at the industry, the AFC has advised that prudent expenditures be directed only to the Albion, Blairmont and Uitvlugt estates, as was the plan of the APNU+AFC Government to reduce losses and increase profitability.
However, Ramjattan said that the AFC sees a motive for such high spending of PPP/C Government and will seek to expose this every opportunity given.
“The AFC has unearthed that there is another motive for such spending namely, the preparation for privatization to interest subservient to the Jagdeo faction of the PPP. Jagdeo who undoubtedly serving his third term through the instrumentality of an Irfan Ali presidency, in keeping with his orientation towards oligarchy, wants to sell to a consortium of local Indians and Saudi Arabian businessmen and finances,” Ramjattan said.
He alleged that there are even plans to bring workers from India and Saudi Arabia to suit the arrangements. The AFC Leader called on all Guyanese to push for the halting of such an arrangement which could lead to a Government of absolute power in Guyana’s political landscape.
Guyana’s sugar industry contracted by 3.7 percent in 2020. However, Senior Minister within the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh has stated that despite the prophets of doom, the PPP/C Government stands resolute to its manifesto promise turn the industry around.
He said the new board and management appointed have been charged with conducting a detail diagnostic of the industry, and to make GuySuCo fit for purpose. A Master Plan for each sugar estate is being developed to guide the future of the sugar industry.
Changes to come include quadrupling sales into the packaged sugar market locally and internationally over the next five years; improving access roads at the estates; improving cane transport fleets; rehabilitating the estates to profitable cost centers and more.