Get the people who know about sugar involved – Granger urges gov’t

Opposition Leader David Granger has called on the government to involve persons with technical expertise to assist in the resuscitation of the floundering Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) and to stop treating it as the sole preserve of the PPP/C.

Granger said the government needs to take a more inclusive and consultative mode as it works towards revamping the corporation. He said going to the National Assembly every year and asking for bailouts for the corporation is not going aid in a turnaround.

The $1 billion GuySuCo subvention in the 2013 budget was once again used to pay workers, Minister of Agricul-ture Dr Leslie Ramsammy had told the National Assembly during the debate.

During an interview with this newspaper yesterday, Granger pointed out that a multitude of problems faces the corporation including technical, managerial, labour and marketing and the administration needs to realise that it does not have all the answers.

“It is a national situation and must have a national response…; the government needs to stop treating the corporation like a sector of the PPP. It is not a matter of changing a few faces on the board…” Granger said.

Recently the sugar corporation recorded its lowest ever first crop of 48,000 tonnes of sugar against a target of 70,000-tonnes. And its Chief Executive Officer Paul Bhim has said that the corporation has had a serious financial problem and that the company could not offer an attractive minimum wage and this has seen an exodus of workers from the sugar industry in recent years. Bhim also noted that GuySuCo was looking to revamp training programmes and gear the sector toward training and keeping workers through job satisfaction and succession planning.

According to Granger, only 52%“of the corporation’s workforce turns out on a daily basis adding that in his last budget speech Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh referred to managerial problems existing at the corporation several times.
“Changing the Chairman or a CEO is almost a joke,” Granger said.

He stressed that the government needs to accept that it has made “a mess” of the corporation, depoliticize the management and employ the skills of persons with the requisite technical knowledge in the field to give the corporation a hand.

Granger did not comment on the reported US$25,000 per month package (equivalent to $5M) which had been mooted for the Chairman of the Board of Directors but the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers’ Union (GAWU) recently said that it has been assured by President Donald Ramotar that the Chairman would not be receiving that sum monthly.

According to Chand, GAWU sought assurances from the government in the light of concern that Chairman Raj Singh may potentially earn such an amount on a monthly basis.

“We are very concerned… that someone that is going to head an industry that is in such a financial state ‒ it can’t happen!” Chand had declared and added that the company could not possibly allow such an “extravagant” showcase of “excess,” while workers earn so little in basic wages.

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