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The recent appointment of the new members to the Board of Directors, particularly the former Managers to serve on the Board who presided over wrongdoings and removed for various reasons for committing infractions ranging from incompetence, theft, corruption, fraud, malfeasance, and unsatisfactory job performance that contributed to the failure of the sugar company over the years while they were in employment. Their leadership and management style has contributed to the bitter sugar the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) finds itself in today.
To begin with, one of the Managers in 2011 produced an estimated projection of $600M for the conduct of a Job Evaluation exercise at the company. The main aim is to bring the level of wages and salaries of employees comparable to market rates with a view to enhance sugar production and productivity by reducing high absenteeism at the respective estates for the time rated employees across the sugar industry.
It was then realised that a huge blunder was made in the computation of the new rates and retroactive payments made to employees amounts to in excess of $6.0B which put GuySuCo on its knees and impacting on its financial resources. All this was done against the backdrop in the 36% price cut for sugar by the European Union and the ending of the preferential treatment under the 1975 Sugar protocol.
Another Manager who now sits on the new Board was removed for corruption and fraudulent conversion, and thereafter engaged by the sugar company for various assignments and who resigned recently after a spat with the CEO. A third manager who proceeded on retirement in 2012 presided over theft and corruption at the LBI estate by allowing a staff member to resign after it was found out that pension payment continued to be made to pensioners after their death as their names were not removed from the pensioners’ register.
During the 2020 Elections Campaign, Bharrat Jagdeo promised the people of Guyana that the PPP will reopen the sugar estates which they failed to do after two years in government. To date no rehabilitation works has commenced on the estates of Skeldon, Enmore and Wales except Rose Hall and the government will continue with the handing out of cash grants so as to divert attention from the elections promise and to ensure that their supporters are kept in the mode of dependency syndrome.
It is widely known and it is no secret that the PPP/C government promotes cronyism, friendism and individualism in the selection and appointment of persons to the governing board of directors at the Guyana Sugar Corporation over the years and continues to do so. More recently, the Irfaan Ali led government has found its new ally in the Private Sector Commission, the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry. A member of the Central Corentyne Chamber of Commerce who is closely related to the Minister of Agriculture and who has no expertise in the sugar production business was also appointed by the government.
GuySuCo needs competent individuals to manage its affairs in all strata and activities of its business and more importantly in the field and factory operations which are lacking. A competency survey conducted in 2012 on four hundred (400) Senior Staff revealed that 28% had a first degree while 72% were promoted through upward mobility and years of experience on the job. This means therefore that the sugar company does not have the requisite manpower with the technical competency and expertise to turn the industry around in the near foreseeable future
The PPP/C government invested US$200M in the Skeldon Sugar Modernisation Programme and thereafter with massive financial injection has failed to satisfy project deliverables for Guyana and the people in the sugar belt and simultaneously neglecting the other sugar factories of much needed financial resources to execute rehabilitation works to improve factory efficiencies and enhance competitiveness. This has no doubt contributed to the downfall of the sugar industry.
There are competent individuals in Guyana with years of experience in sugar production and manufacturing who are willing to serve and support the improvement in the sugar industry but are not considered due to the fact that they are not politically aligned with the politics of the government. While sugar is dead a long time ago, there will be no quick fix by the new Board of Directors in the absence of required expertise and competency of the current board, while the government will continue to inject fiscal transfers to ensure that GuySucO remains on life support and simultaneously continuing with poor judgement and decision making that will further the destruction of the sugar industry by 2025.