Finance Minister Winston Jordan this afternoon reiterated that radical reorganisation of the sugar industry is required but he made no announcements of any decisions in relation to estates.
Presenting the 2017 budget, he said that a Cabinet subcommittee will make a report to the Cabinet before the end of 2016 on the options available.
Jordan said that there is a $9b allocation for GuySuCo in the 2017 budget. He said this brings the total amount provided to the beleaguered GuySuCo by the APNU+AFC government since May 2015 to $32b.
He warned that the continued draining of public finances by the sugar industry cannot be sustained or maintained. He said that to keep GuySuCo going as is would require $18.6b in 2017 and $21.4b next year. Such expenditure would seriously jeopardise the finances of the state. He charged that the stark reality is that money injected into sugar in its current state is wasted money.
The Finance Minister’s statement was a further sign that several sugar estates face closure to rein in the debt wracked up by the industry. Jordan pointed out that the corporation’s debt is around $80b.
He said the undiversified agriculture sector was like an “albatross” around the country’s neck and said there needs to be urgent diversification. He cited corn, spices and quinoa as areas for diversification.