Amid all of its production and financial woes, the Guyana Sugar Corporation has been without a legally functioning Board of Directors since June of this year, according to an industry insider.
Stabroek News was told that the life of GuySuCo’s board had expired back in June and that any and all subsequent meetings would not have been in compliance with requirements.
This newspaper was told that a formalextension would have had to be signed by Cabinet which would give the board “life” for an additional three to six months. While the situation was described as “complicated” the industry insider did say that the board of directors would have had to be made aware of cabinet’s decision prior to any meetings being held.
When Stabroek Newscontacted Keith Burrowes, a GuySuCo director, yesterday he stated that he could not confirm whether or not the life of the board had expired. He stated that the GuySuCo’s Chairman, Raj Singh, could not have called any meeting unless there had been a written extension. He said that he himself was not made aware of the board’s status currently and that decisions would be passed on to Singh himself.
Burrowes noted that if a new board had been appointed then the work being done by the current board would be voided but could be retrospectively validated once the new board was established and formal notification given.
Stabroek News did ask Burrowes if it was not odd that he, being on GuySuCo’s board of directors, had not been notified as to the board’s current status. He said that it would be a strange circumstance however any further questions needed to be directed to the chairman himself.
When contacted by phone yesterday in New Jersey, GuySuCo’s chairman, Singh stated that the board was meeting regularly. Singh told Stabroek News that information of the nature requested by the newspaper would need to be directed to the agriculture ministry.
Minister of Agriculture, Dr Leslie Ramsammy, was unavailable up to press time yesterday.
Since the beginning of the year the government has been hinting that GuySuCo will be faced with major changes to the current management structure and will most likely be operating with a new board. As recently as September Dr Ramsammy told media operatives that changes to the board of directors were as imminent as the end of that month. However, it is mid-October and there has been no official revelation as to what the government intends for GuySuCo.
In May, Dr Ramsammy stated that Cabinet had already been examining changes to the board of directors. By June he disclosed that it was not a matter of structural changes to management and the board, but when these changes were coming.
With GuySuCo in $5.2 billion worth of debt and a 2013-2017 Strategic Plan that was released earlier this month, critics have questioned why the state owned corporation has remained hesitant to open up to public scrutiny.
To date GuySuCo has produced just over 94,000 tonnes of sugar during the second crop and just under 48,000 tonnes in the first crop. With approximately eight weeks left of harvesting to go, GuySuCo will need to make over 61,000 tonnes of sugar to meet the revised second crop target of 155,000 tonnes.
Industry experts say that while it is possible GuySuCo needs to be prepared if this is not met. The state owned corporation had to revise its original 240,000 tonnes 2013 target to just over 203,000 after the first crop’s results and the poor start in the second crop. Output of 203,000 tonnes is a low figure for the industry.