Urgent need to up sugar productivity

-Agri Minister tells champion worker ceremony

There is an urgent need to increase productivity in the sugar industry and both management and employees must play their part, according to Minister of Agriculture, Robert Persaud.

Addressing the GuySuCo 2010 Honours’ Roll function on Friday at the Guyana International Conference Centre, Persaud also cautioned that the corporation will experience a $10 billion loss in revenue this year when the European Union’s (EU) 36% price cut comes into full effect. The minister said too that the depreciation of the euro will result in revenue drop by another $1 billion, which added to the price cut will see the industry losing close to 50% of its normal revenue in one year.

“Tell me which business can survive a loss of revenue of close to 50% in one year. Such a cut would cripple most businesses. Even transnational corporations would have filed for bankruptcy; lay-off thousands of workers as we see in the US, Europe and the Caribbean; impose a wage cut or even a wage freeze; and even close some of its operations,” he declared.

The minister said that “there is urgent need to increase productivity so as to assist in mitigating these negative factors that will definitely cause hardship to the industry and country as a whole.” He urged the corporation’s management and employees in this time of the turn-around process, “to settle differences in a way that does not disrupt production and productivity but which will secure the future of the industry.”

His presentation was the feature address which also included speeches from Acting President Samuel Hinds, Chairman of the GuySuCo’s Board Dr Nanda Gopaul, Acting CEO Paul Bhim and others.

Persaud, while pledging government’s support for sugar, said there will “continue to be changes”, particularly as it relates to the way the industry is managed. “We need more canes in our factories.  We need more sugar for export. We need to cut the cost of production. We have to eradicate corruption and wastage. And I must commend the board for taking bold steps to enhance efficiency and fixing weak procurement systems,” Persaud declared.

“I call also on the management team of GuySuCo to heed to the call and to up their performance level. Together with the workers an environment will be created that will result in the industry operating at the desired level,” Persaud added.

Persaud also highlighted the importance of the work force and lauded those who were on the honours’ roll. “You, the members of the honours’ roll have become the torchbearers of outstanding performance, role models to your fellow workers and, no doubt, would have derived great personal satisfaction and pride from your achievements,” he said. He reminded the workers that such outstanding performances are what the industry badly needs at this particular juncture.

Meanwhile, according to a release from GINA, Dr Gopaul echoed Persaud’s sentiments about the importance of upping production.  According to him, although the industry faced many challenges over the last four years, the investment made by the government in 2009 has been able to overcome all hiccups and as such stabilize the industry.

“We are fixing those problems that occurred at the factory, this has seen us bringing in persons to deal with all the issues,” Gopaul said according to GINA.

Twenty-four workers- three from each of the eight sugar estates- were honoured.

Krishnanand Bhawan was the Champion worker at the Skeldon estate while Michael Mickle and Suendra Halall were adjudged the first and second runners up.  Over at Albion, Ronald Allicock won the Champion worker award while first and second runners up were awarded to Nizam Alli and Tekha Pooran respectively.   Rose Hall’s champion worker was Totaram Sanchara while the other two awardees were George Newyear, 1st runner-up and Mahendra Changoo, 2nd runner-up. Teekeram was the champion worker at Blairmont followed by Deodat Maloo and Hazel Douglas.  At Enmore, the Champion worker was Ramsahoi Parsram, while first and second runners up went to Joseph Brandon and Roy Singh.  Hansraj Rambarran captured the award for champion worker at LBI while Simone Semple and Dhaniram Kassim were the other awardees.  Wales’ Champion Worker was Paulette Garnett and the other awardees were Floyd King and Basmat Ramnarine.  Royston Petty captured the Champion worker at Uitvlugt while Dexter Duff and Motiram were the other two awardees.

The individuals were given certificates and gold pins while the champion workers will spend three nights at Lake Mainstay resort, GINA said.

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