My visit to Skeldon on the 26 of January 2018, with Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, Minister of Agriculture Noel Holder and Junior Minister of Finance, Jaipaul Sharma made me realize the impact of dirty propaganda on our people, as it creates a mindset in some, that GuySuCo could still function with the present staff to December 31, 2018.
As it was explained to me by the staff of the corporation, income from the sale of sugar produced by GuySuCo is around $14 billion a year but its overall cost to produce and to manage the corporation is $27 billion, which includes a $16 billion wage bill which is higher than the yearly sales by $2 billion. The reality of the destruction of the sugar industry is coming to light, and the PPP/C is in reverse mode trying to duck away from their ill-fated plans for the development of the sugar industry which they implemented over the period 1992 to 2015.
The PPP/C is now crying foul when they are fully aware that to bring in investors to invest in the three sugar factories, which are closed, the government would have to lay off the workers and pay off the severance and liability. Hardly any investor would like to take over a bankrupt entity, with severance pay hanging in the balance; they would like to re-employ those persons whom they think can do the job with no political agenda.
If the PPP/C government had taken US$100 million and repaired the sugar factories and another US$100 million to invest in training, loans and grants to develop value added sugar related products, by now many jobs would have been created? The PPP/C created a weak foundation for streamlining the restructuring of the sugar industry. Today that foundation has been shaken and the AFC Minister and his party in the APNU+AFC government who hold the responsibility to manage agriculture will have to do a lot of educational programmes to remove the old culture that cutting cane is the only way of life.
As a Member of Parliament and a Berbician we need to encourage private investment in a canning factory to process and market our produce. Imagine pepper pot beef and local fish in a tin, creating thousands of jobs. We just have to engage our God-given talents and apply the wisdom of production. Financial institutions need to take a little more risk to make loans available to manufacturers who are adding value to the industry.
We must learn the art of creating jobs for ourselves. The reality is no government can create jobs for everyone, so let us send a positive message and leave the negative criticisms from the childish politicians behind.
We are sorry that we had to take this necessary step to relieve 4700 jobs to save the industry. Sugar is not dead; this is an adjustment.