Seven consultants from the Indian firm Integrated Casetech Consultants Ltd (ICC) arrived in Guyana recently to oversee GuySuCo’s production at the Enmore Estate.
Four of those engineers have quietly replaced factory management and are running the plant, according to sources.
GuySuCo and the government have been quiet recently on changes that are being made to the industry and individual estates.
Stabroek News was told that the situation at Enmore was significantly worse than was previously thought. The 50-year-old factory is in a state of disarray.
The engineers were awarded two-year contracts to work the factory. However, their remuneration and what exactly they will be overseeing has only been discussed at the level of the board at the state-owned corporation.
Stabroek News was told by an insider that “the Indians came in, they are running things.”
He added that when the Guyana Sugar Corporation originally brought on the consultants, it was under the guise of working alongside current staff and factory management, but that has since changed. Stabroek News was told by an Enmore Estate employee that management was consulted about decisions merely days before things happened. He said people rarely asked questions and were basically waiting to see what would happen next.
In December of last year CEO of GuySuCo Paul Bhim had told this newspaper that two consultants were being brought on because the factory’s age was causing operational challenges. He did not divulge what would be the engineers’ roles at that time. Since then GuySuCo has added two more engineers to the factory and an additional three who will deal with the state of the fields from ICC.
According to an industry insider, management and the board are making changes with little information trickling down until people are notified that they will be moved. Critics have argued that the local sugar industry has always had the expertise to take care of problems at factories and it is unclear why the industry has had to resort to the Indian firm.
Stabroek News understands that Enmore began harvesting the 2014 first crop last week, but with the low production across the industry the Enmore Packaging Plant is operating only three days a week. This publication was told that the three-day operation was the maximum for operation at this time although the plant was designed to be a 24-hour operation.
The state-owned corporation has not released the amount of sugar packaged by the plant in 2013. However, almost 60,000 tonnes of cane was reportedly left over from 2013 that had to be ground and packaged during the 2014 first crop.
Stabroek News was also told that the slow start to the first crop and the low sugar yields made it difficult for the plant to operate daily. The packaging plant was commissioned in May of 2011 at a cost of US$12.5 million.
It was intended to complement the Enmore estate but with the 50-year-old factory, which has received very minimal refurbishing support from the deeply indebted company, the plant itself is unable to operate at full capacity.
The packaging plant is to work simultaneously with the factory. Since the plant was commissioned, its annual packaging capacity was set at 40,000 tonnes of sugar.
According to its 2013-2017 Strategic Plan, GuySuCo plans to spend a total of US$25 million on factory upgrades.
However, Enmore has been allocated just over US$2 million over the four years, which may not be enough to rehabilitate the 50-year-old factory.
The packaging plant is seen as another key underperforming asset of the industry with its productivity hinged on adequate sugar output, which has waned in recent years. Production last year fell to 186,807 tonnes.