GuySuCo believes that Mr. Sookram Persaud is being outright irresponsible and reckless

The Guyana Sugar Corporation Inc. (GuySuCo) would like to respond to a letter written by one Mr. Sookram Persaud in the Kaieteur News and Guyana Chronicle on 31 May, 2017 and titled ‘Incompetence and confusion stalking GuySuCo’ and ‘Bad move to send Albion’s sugar to the Enmore Packaging Plant’.

Firstly, Mr. Persaud is being highly irresponsible and possibly reckless to assert that GuySuCo is placing unhygienic sugar on the local market, particularly since we believe that he understands the system; and secondly, he is being very mischievous in his constant attacks against the management of GuySuCo.

The Corporation would like to particularly respond to two points in Mr. Persaud’s letter. The reference ‘this decision to send Albion’s sugar to the Enmore Packaging Plant effectively means that GuySuCo is now placing industrial bulk grade sugar or non-food grade sugar into bags and/or packs for retail sale and thus direct use’ and that ‘the IMC has convinced the government that the day-to-day decisions it is making are best for the citizens, the corporation and the country’.

On the point of industrial bulk sugar being bagged for direct use; it is a fact that the Skeldon, and Albion, Estates primarily produce bulk sugar for the export market, Rose Hall and Uitvlugt Estates produces bulk sugar for the export market as well as bagged sugar for the local market, and Blairmont and Enmore Estates produce sugar for the  purpose of bagging and packaged  for both local and export markets. This is based on GuySuCo’s internal operational arrangement to allocate or focus its production and targets among estates. This being the case, it means that all six factories does have the capacity at any time to produce the varying qualities required, as in this instance, where the Albion Estate is producing sugar that is being bagged at Enmore Estate because that Estate has bagging facilities.  . The difference between the bagged and packaged sugar is the further drying of the sugar to render it more conducive to packaging.

Does Mr. Sookram really believes that GuySuCo would have massive investments like the Albion factory or any of its factory that would not allow the Corporation the flexibility to  reallocate production responsibilities and targets whenever it becomes necessary? Now would that be incompetence Mr. Persaud?

The writer further stated that ‘apart from non-food grade sugar being packed, the cost of production will be much higher because of additional transport cost from Albion to Enmore. Is this sound business decision that the Corporation often boasts about?’ This observation by Mr. Persaud is accurate, the cost to transport sugar from Albion to Enmore Estate increases the production cost and might not be sound business decision if GuySuCo was allowed to operate its business with more stability. Nonetheless, this is where the Corporation would like to request that Mr. Persaud uses his excessively keen interest in GuySuCo and the Interim Management Committee (IMC), to provide the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU)  with some of his sound business advice on how  the  behaviour  of the Union towards  GuySuCo is impacting negatively on the business of sugar, as in this instance increasing the production cost and reducing much needed foreign exchange that could be earned as well as the wages and salaries for our workers who are members of the Union.

Mr. Persaud also stated that ‘I did warn about incompetence and possible record low production in a previous letter. Low production must be the cause for GuySuCo ending the first crop at Enmore, then twenty-four (24) hours later announcing that it will restart operations’. Mr. Persaud is right again; production at the Enmore Estate is low for the First Crop 2017 and one of the reasons, is the consistent unstable environment that is created by GAWU. For example, in March, the Union encouraged the planters from the East Demerara Estate to refuse to take up harvesting work at that estate even though the harvesters’ turnout was 59%. On 23 May, the workers were a part of a protest in Enmore that was organized by GAWU and were also on strike.

Additionally, East Demerara Estate management made a decision to continue the crop on Monday 22 May, however, the workers were encouraged to strike to force management to end the crop, they struck on 23, 24 and 25 May; GuySuCo informed GAWU on the 25 May, that as a result of the strike there will be a shortage of sugar for the local market, hence, there was a meeting with GuySuCo and the workers on the same day, and after they were reminded that the continuation of the crop means regular earnings for the period, an agreement was reached for the workers to resume duties on 26 May, 2017.

 During the First Crop of 2017, EDE had 13 strikes with 5,418 man-days lost, resulting in a potential earnings loss to the striking workers of G$13.6M.

Based on the instability at the EDE, the decision was made to divert some of the Albion Estate’s production to ensure that adequate sugar is available for the local market during the out-of-crop period. As such, the sugar is sent to Enmore Packaging Plant in one tonne bags where it is re-bagged in 50 kg bags for local distribution. This is not incompetence Mr. Persaud rather this decision ensures that the Corporation remains reliable and credible in fulfilling its commitments despite having to manage a business with unreasonable partners like GAWU.

These Mr. Persaud are some of the day-to-day challenges and the level of instability which Estate Management and the IMC have to navigate its way through while still focusing on strategic matters.

Finally, on Mr. Persaud’s point on the incompetence of the IMC, GuySuCo has concluded that the writer seems to be employed and has as his responsibility to attack the management of GuySuCo. Judging from the focus of the letters he has been writing, in addition to the most recent ones to which this letter is responding, others were: Guyana Chronicle  2 May, ‘GuySuCo IMC has performed abysmally’; Kaieteur News 2 April, ‘The poor performance at GuySuCo continue’;  17 February, Kaieteur News ‘Diversification model is either disaster or mismanagement’; 15 February, Guyana Chronicle ‘Someone must be accountable for Skeldon cogeneration plant woes’; ‘ 31 January, Kaieteur News ‘This decision by GuySuco boggles the mind’, and  27 January, 2017, Kaieteur News ‘GuySuCo’s team gets salaries no other country would pay’; all of which basically attacked the management.

The management of GuySuCo would like to assure Mr. Persaud that while the Corporation is faced with numerous challenges, the IMC, various levels of management as well as many employees, have taken on this ‘Project GuySuCo’ with passion, enthusiasm and in a highly intellectual way, in the first instance, to bring order and discipline to the  business of sugar and secondly, to find the widest range of solutions to the myriad of challenges relative to its future. One example, the Management Committee recently completed a highly strategic exercise - A Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Treats (SWOT) Analysis which is already proving to be extremely useful in its strategic planning. 

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