Chief Executive Officer of the Guyana Water Incor-porated and former Education and Housing Minister Shaik Baksh will be the new Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo), sources say.
Stabroek News was reliably informed that President Donald Ramotar will be making the announcement after meeting with his cabinet tomorrow. Ramotar said on Saturday that the new GuySuCo board will be announced this week.
When Stabroek News contacted Baksh on Thursday, he said that “certain things are under negotiations” and added that he could not confirm anything as yet.
Meanwhile, head of the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) Komal Chand is awaiting a formal response from the Agriculture Ministry on whether the invitation to sit on the board would be extended to another member of GAWU and not just him. Chand explained that he would not be sitting on the board but had written to Agriculture Minister, Dr Leslie Ramsammy requesting that GAWU be allowed to select another representative. “At this point in time my union would rather be pleased to have your invitation extended for its central executive committee to select a suitable person to be its representative on the corporation’s board,” Chand wrote. He told Stabroek News that he was looking forward to the response and the union on Saturday at the general council’s meeting, would be discussing possible names to be submitted. The GAWU leader stated that they do not want to be preemptive and submit any names to the ministry but will await a response because the initial invitation was to him directly and not GAWU.
On June 16, during a rally at the Enmore Martyrs Monument at Enmore, East Coast Demerara, Ramotar publicly invited Chand to sit on the next GuySuCo board.
This was after Chand criticised GuySuCo’s management during his address at the rally. Blaming the depressed state of the corporation on poor management, Chand had said “A new board of directors is long, long overdue…, especially since the last Chairman became the new Chief Executive Officer, leaving GuySuCo headless and the present board headless….”
Chand revealed that he had since received a formal invitation from Ramsammy to sit on the board. He said that the decision is not being taken lightly and all the factors will need to be considered especially in relation to the union’s position as a critical member of the corporation and its current management.
Chand had said that the management system is flawed and the appointment of the previous board chairman Rajendra Singh to the position of CEO did little to ease worries over the management structure of the state-owned company. He had also called for full disclosure of how the over $31 billion that was handed over by the European Union(EU) as the accompanying measures to the reform of the EU sugar regime, was spent. The restructuring of GuySuCo’s board has taken over a year. Last October, it was revealed that the company was without a properly functioning board since June. Ramsammy had responded that the life of the board was extended until the end of the year. The new board was to be announced at the beginning of July.
In addition, the position of Deputy CEO has to be filled and currently no one has been identified to take over for Paul Bhim who will step down as the Director of Finance.
Criticism of the state-owned corporation has mounted and industry experts have called for the formulation of a real strategic plan that will address the crisis in the sugar industry. Ramotar’s decision to appoint Singh to the post of CEO when the company is struggling with over $58 billion in debt has also been questioned as it was pointed out that Singh is not a financial expert nor an agriculturist.
Stakeholders were hoping that the new board would comprise experts who have a deep understanding of the sugar industry and how to move it beyond its current struggles.