GuySuCo is a business and will be managed as such, a note to a former President

Dear Editor,

The Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) wishes to respond to a former President in what he describes as a ‘missive’ in one of the political parties weekend newspaper publications. In his attempt to vilify the Government, this statesman only exposed his own confliction in respect of what was his headline, ‘ethnic cleansing in GuySuCo.’

Based on the expressions in the publication, it was obvious that the former President has accelerated his descent to unthinkable levels. This ethnic headline is set above a ‘missive’ which incoherently charges the current administration of closing GuySuCo – literally the whole sugar industry – a highly imaginative notion unrelated to any semblance of truth and known only to the former President.

Having naively admitted that previous crises in the industry were overcome ‘long before the present political parties, in this country were formed - obviously by the private owners of the day- he seeks to lay claim to reviving the industry from its crisis in ‘1990’, when in fact it was the Desmond Hoyte’s regime, that invited Booker Tate to effect the rescue of the industry.

The former President also continued to make the assertion of a surge past 300,000 tonnes of sugar annually for several years, this is hardly supported by the actual records, which is shown in the table below that for almost twenty-five years, and there were four years when over 300,000 tonnes of sugar was achieved.

Year

Tonnes

Years

Tonnes

1993

246,522

2005

246,071

1994

256,657

2006

259,549

1995

253,919

2007

266,482

1996

280,116

2008

226,267

1997

267,537

2009

233,736

1998

253,871

2010

220,818

1999

321,438

2011

236,505

2000

273,317

2012

218,068

2001

284,470

2013

186,745

2002

331,052

2014

216,350

2003

302,379

2015

231,070

2004

325,317

Furthermore, what is interesting; is that the former President’s management team did not appear to heed the advice he is now giving, for example, ‘proper investment’. Nonetheless, the statesman has now become fond of providing advice on projects such as co-generation, fuel alcohol – ‘an area’, he asserts, ‘that GuySuCo can make a great contribution immediately’. How then does he explain the sale of Skeldon Co –generation Plant to Skeldon Energy Inc., the cogeneration plant is the life of the factory on the estate. Additionally, the former President was a member of the Board of Directors when a feasibility study was done that showed producing ethanol from sugar cane was not practical due to the high cost of cultivating and harvesting sugar cane. An important point to note here is that at the time when the study was conducted, the price for oil was much higher.

While the current financial indebtedness of G$82 billion that was unearthed by the current management of the Corporation over the past year was not created by them, the management has taken responsibility and is navigating the Corporation out of its mire.

In addition to the financial vacuum discussed above, it is by no means inappropriate to mention the severe loss of skills that the industry suffered up to 2015 – even without ethnic cleansing to use the former President’s words. Many of those summarily dismissed by the previous administration of GuySuCo, he might find it informative to learn that GuySuCo has since been faced with dozens of lawsuits. 

Further, the complainant President mentioned some of our former employees to validate his claims of ethnic cleansing, nevertheless, the details of our employees and our relationship with them, good or bad are confidential and the Corporation does not view such as a matter for public debate. Our concern, however, is that the former President continues to expose these individuals to fulfil his own narrow agenda while not taking into consideration that certain matters should be treated delicately.

Having said all of the above, it is important to correct the palpable mistruth about the industry being closed. The facts are that in the prospects for sugar as the only core business for GuySuCo is not promising. The Corporation has to cope with the increasingly unsustainable high cost of production which has resulted from a gradual deterioration over the years and the continuous demand for more by the Unions’ from an entity that simply cannot afford to give more.

The following Table provides is an indication of increases gratuitously made over the past five years.

Years

Increases %

Remarks

2010

5

Across the board

2011

5+3

Additional 3 %

2012

5 % for piece rated, Job Elevation and an additional 1% for time rated

Job evaluation cost approximately G$1.3 B

( above 20% increase) for 7,214 time workers

2013

4

Across the board

2014

4

Across the board

What is interesting is that to a large extent, these increases have contributed to the present state of financial non-viability of the sugar industry since they were and are beyond the financial capability of the Corporation.

It is obvious that the former President is becoming comfortable being a stranger to the truth when communicating with the sugar industry. This has therefore exposed the limitations of his paradigm through which he processes and then seeks to transfer this limited perspective to vulnerable minds. Any good leader should have the maturity to take responsibility for poor decisions which were made under their watch.  

Additionally, the former President has chosen not to be subtle or send hidden messages anymore in his rantings about GuySuCo and the sugar industry, hence it would be instructive for him to note that GuySuCo does not have the luxury of playing games; whether they be political or other; the Corporation runs a business that will be managed from here onwards, as a business. It has 17,000 employees on its payroll, and communities which are dependent on the efficiencies of the estates and this campaign by the former President would not go unnoticed.

Finally, it would be good for the former President to note that respect is earned!

Communications Unit

Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo)

9 July, 2016

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