The government has no clue about what it is doing in the sugar industry

Dear Editor,

The current GuySuCo fiasco takes us into the realm of the unbelievable. The closing down of Wales and the diversification into rice and now the attempt to reopen; and the closing down of Rose Hall and Skeldon Estates and the redundancy of the workers and now the attempts to reopen them, make it conclusive that this government has no clue about what it is doing to the industry.

This government spent a total of $175 million in two years on CoIs and these are still continuing.  Of this amount $51.8 million was spent on the GuySuCo’s CoI and it is public knowledge that that CoI recommended privatization of the estates and not closure, yet the recommendation was thrown aside by the government which paid for it. The CoI comprised a team of ‘experts’ which included the now Chairman of GuySuCo’s Board of Directors, Dr Clive Thomas. He did the financial and economic analysis. If this recommendation had been heeded then the current situation which GuySuCo finds itself in would have been avoided. It would not have needed the Special Purpose Unit (SPU) to educate the government that if you want to sell an asset profitably then you need to sell it as a going concern. What is alarming is the fact that many apologists for this government concluded that the government did well!

At our Regional Democratic Council Statutory a few months back, I told the council that this is a wrong move and I was supported by my colleagues on the opposition side. The government side supported the government’s move to close down the estates in Region Six. Mr Samuel Fraser, an APNU Councillor complimented the government! The Regional Chairman, Mr David Armogan then told him that if you want to sell your car you cannot remove the wheels and then invite offers. Why would anyone want to wreck something and then sell it?

This government through its cabinet and the Minister of Agriculture did exactly the opposite of what the CoI recommended. They closed down the estates, cannibalized the factories, abandoned the hundreds of millions of dollars of sugar cane in the fields, sent home the workers and triggered a debilitating economic decline which is being felt not only in the sugar belt but across this country. Additionally, the diversification programme at Wales has failed miserably, and some workers are yet to receive their severance pay.  All the communities across these sugar belt areas are experiencing hardship. What is also clear is the valuation process of the assets should have been done before any closure. This is typical of how the PNC works. It is unimaginable that a government can be so incompetent.

Many sugar workers voted for the APNU+AFC because of the 20% increase which was peddled on the TV by the AFC and the distribution of leaflets in the sugar estates area. I confronted the AFC member from Fyrish who was distributing this leaflet in my community in the presence of some sugar workers. So this is not a figment of the sugar workers’ imaginations.

In my opinion, the situation will worsen, since it is now accepted that the valuation process will take longer than anticipated, and the SPU attempts to recommence sugar production at these estates will fail with the huge stock of sugar canes being spoiled beyond salvage. The closure not only destroyed the workers but the estates as well. This government has succeeded in utilizing $40 billion dollars of taxpayers’ dollars to further destroy the industry.

The action of this government reminds me of Sir Walter Scott’s Marmion: “O, what a tangled web we weave…when first we practise to deceive.”

Yours faithfully,

Haseef Yusuf

Councillor

RDC, Region Six

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