I was most surprised to read the recent report in SN of December 9 indicating that President Ramotar is “seeking sugar help from Cuba.”
Our sugar industry has certainly been see-sawing from its British colonial-capitalist inception through the “Bitter Sugar” syndrome as depicted by our dear Dr Cheddi Jagan to the pre-Independence “Sweetening of Bitter Sugar” as researched and eruditely described by Prof Clement Seecharran to the post-Independence nationalization projecting “ownership and operation by the people of Guyana” as emblazoned on the entrance to all units of GuySuCo but under full control by our politicians.
Nationalization, predictably, but alas unfortunately led to a steep decline in the fortunes of the industry until our politicians wisely decided to invite the British to return in a ‘management’ capacity as per the Booker-Tate arrangement. Then, from virtual extinction, the industry was resuscitated through a process of objective management by Booker-Tate. However, the ‘curse’ soon returned in the form of full control and management by our politicians.
And now, as reported: “the local sugar industry has seen slumping production in recent years and is struggling to attain a modest target for 2014. It also has major problems with its flagship Skeldon factory which is now a huge drain on the Guyana Sugar Corporation.”
It must be recalled that our politicians have already flirted with the Chinese, the South Africans and the Indians with a view to reversing the aforesaid trend. This obviously begs the question whether the Cubans will succeed where the others have failed?
Is anyone prepared to wager on a turnaround under the current ‘hit and miss’ or ‘shooting in the dark’ approaches by our politicians?
When will our politicians ever realize that nowhere in the world has any industry been successfully run by politicians.
The history of our sugar industry has proven beyond any doubt that politicians must allow professional managers to manage the industry. Why can’t we take a leaf from the books of companies like our own very successfully run local DDL and Banks DIH which are blessed by the absence of political interference.
The de-politicization if not de-nationalization of our sugar industry is long overdue.