Reports in the media today (April 7) about wrangling over which Minister (Agriculture or Finance) should have oversight responsibility for GuySuCo, Guyana’s number one industry, is indeed a sad reflection of a major flaw in which this premier industry has been floundering for far too long.
There is no doubt that the sugar industry has had too long a spell of depressing performance about which there have been a number of diagnoses and remedies proposed by numerous ‘politicians’, ‘pundits’, ‘professionals’ and ‘pragmatists’ among us. ‘Privatization’ v ‘Nationalization’ v ‘Outsourcing of the Management’ of the industry have been among the several plasters prescribed for the sore and sorry plight of the industry, and they have all been given a fair chance to prove their worth (or worthlessness!). (In similar vein, the government-appointed CoI into the sugar industry has also made its recommendations upon which we are still to see any action.)
It boggles the mind that the natural placement of the sugar industry under the umbrella of the Ministry of Agriculture is a subject of dispute; after all the sugar industry is the largest and unquestionably most crucial ‘agricultural’ aspect of government. If the subject Minister is ineffective, then s/he should be replaced by someone better; to remove the entire Ministry instead of the Minister just does not make sense.
Now, out of the blue as the saying goes, we have a debate about which ‘Minister’ not which ‘Ministry’ should take control of the industry. At this rate we may soon have the Minister of Cohesion being proposed as the most appropriate to oversee the industry since it appears that ‘personal’ or ‘personality’ or ‘political’ wrangling is at the core of the poor industry’s plight!
My good friend and professional colleague, Mr EB John, in Stabroek News of the day before identified the need for good old “team work” in the industry; it is now palpably clear that we also, or more so, need a strong dose of decisive leadership from the very top.
May I respectfully beg for the President’s necessarily decisive intervention? I do not have to tell him, that there is too much at stake at the national level to allow this apparently childish or highly ‘political’ wrangling to go on, and for the industry to continue in an apparently rudderless mode.