Govt sets stage to end sugar in Guyana

first_img… APNU/AFC making good on its 2014 threat – Dr RamsammyThe coalition A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Administration is currently setting the stage to end the centuries old sugar industry in Guyana, with confirmation coming by way of its recent salvos against the Skeldon Sugar Factory, in favour of its disposal.This is the supposition of former Minister of Government with responsibility for the sugar industry, Dr Leslie Ramsammy, who is among the most recent to join the groundswell of warnings against the “nefarious plans” on the part of the Government and its Administration for the industry.The cautionary alarm by Dr Ramsammy comes days after the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) warned of a possible ‘sweetheart deal’ involving the Skeldon Sugar Factory and private interests.Dr Ramsammy on Thursday, called out Chairman of the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo), Professor Clive Thomas, who had recently suggested that the US$200 million factory is in fact falling apart and is derelict, while at the same time suggesting that it could be privatised.According to the former Agriculture Minister, it was the same Professor Thomas who had ‘effusively praised’ the Skeldon Sugar Factory after an outstanding 2015 performance.Dr Ramsammy has since questioned what the Administration has done over the past year to cause such rapid deterioration at the sugar factory, and reminded Professor Thomas that, “the President himself, his Ministers of Finance and Agriculture and others have been aggressively pushing a doomsday scenario for sugar.”Opposition Leader Bharrat JagdeoFormer Health Minister, Dr Leslie RamsammyStinking betrayalRamsammy has since expressed the adamant position that the GuySuCo Chairman’s salvo against the factory is no accident; “it is another element in a deliberate strategy to end sugar, starting with privatisation of some assets.”According to Ramsammy, the assault by Professor Thomas “adds to the stage setting to end sugar… Meanwhile (Moses) Nagamootoo and (Khemraj) Ramjattan (of the AFC) are silent in their stinking betrayal of the sugar workers.”Dr Ramsammy recalled that the Skeldon Sugar Factory did in fact have its best year in 2015, since being commissioned almost a decade ago.The former Agriculture Minister said the APNU/AFC Administration has been actively taking credit for the excellent 2015 production performance but has consistently failed to acknowledge that the improved production started in 2013, when production was 25,380 tonnes and continued in 2014 when production was 35,890 tonnes.“Overall, factory efficiency increased throughout 2014 and 2015 reaching an all-time high of almost 76 per cent in 2015… Co-generation led to an increased generation of power to the national grid.”GuySuCo Chairman, Professor Clive ThomasGuySuCo CEOErrol HanomanBooker TateDr Ramsammy is adamant the improving production at the Skeldon Sugar Factory “resulted from a determined effort by the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) and GuySuCo to correct design flaws.”Public Security Minister Khemraj RamjattanHe, like former President Bharrat Jagdeo, continues to lay blame for the problems plaguing the factory over the years squarely at the feet of UK based Booker Tate, which was responsible for the supervision of its construction and subsequent management.According to Dr Ramsammy, while many including APNU/AFC held the Chinese responsible, the Chinese had constructed a factory to design.He reminded that the PPP/C Administration had argued that the design was flawed and, in fact, sued Booker Tate which was responsible for the design of the factory under its management contract.“That legal action has not been pursued by APNU/AFC which appointed Errol Hanoman as the CEO of GuySuCo who previously represented Booker Tate as its representative on the GuySuCo Board, an obvious conflict of interest,” according to Dr Ramsammy.Responding to the recent criticism levelled against the factory by the industry’s Chairman, Dr Ramsammy posits that having taken credit for the outstanding 2015 performance at the factory, disregarding the remedial actions taken by the PPP Government through 2014 and the first crop of 2015, Professor Thomas is now trying to find an excuse for the anticipated dismal 2016 performance in the industry as a whole, its worse since 1990.According to the former Agriculture Minister, the Skeldon Sugar Factory has now become the convenient excuse for poor management of the industry and to set the platform for ending sugar in Guyana.“There is no uncertainty APNU/AFC is carrying out its 2014 threat to close sugar,” according to Dr Ramsammy.He used the occasion to recall too that after more than 18 months in Government, the promised 20 per cent annual pay increase has morphed into zero pay increase and the earned incentive payments (API) have been disavowed for the first time since 1976.Wales and La Bonne Intention estates are due to be completely closed by the end of 2016, according to Dr Ramsammy, who further charges “more closures and even privatisation are being promised.”He maintains in his public missive against the latest developments that Professor Thomas’s cry that the Skeldon Factory is falling apart is merely preparing the ground to end sugar in Guyana or to hand over the factory to one of APNU/AFC’s donor in a sweetheart deal, like the public health medical warehouse.The sugar workers have been betrayed, according to the former Agriculture Minister, who has since surmised that Guyana will suffer in the end and that the problem is not the factory but rather “it is that APNU/AFC wants to end surgar sooner than later.”last_img