Govt. to consider GuySuCo’s future as COI findings handed over
More than five years after it was commissioned, Guyana’s ‘flagship’ sugar factory at Skeldon in East Berbice is bringing some sweet smiles, last week chalking up its highest daily production.
According to the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) yesterday, with just two and half months left in the year, sugar production is on course with almost 78 percent of the target completed.
The US$200M Skeldon Estate enhancement project had targeted a new factory and more cane lands in what was Guyana’s largest ever initiative by the Government. It had come at a time when countries in the regions were leaving sugar production because of high costs.
The factory, however, failed to kick-start the industry which slid to a two-decade low performance within the last couple years.
This was despite billions of dollars being poured into GuySuCo to help the shortfall.
The turnaround of fortunes for the troubled factory would spell good news for Government.
The industry’s future is banking on the findings of a Commission of Inquiry (COI) that was launched by the David Granger administration following the May 11 General and Regional Elections.
Yesterday, Chairman, Vibert Parvatan, handed over the findings and recommendations on the way forward for the sugar industry.
The documents were handed over to Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, George Jervis, in the Ministry’s boardroom, Regent Street.
With regard to production, GuySuCo yesterday disclosed that it produced 10,254 tonnes of sugar for week ending October 16, surpassing the 10,000 tonnes mark for the third time this crop.
Estates at Skeldon, Albion, Blairmont, East Demerara and Uitvlugt have all surpassed their weekly targets while Rose Hall Estate achieved 97%.
On Wednesday last, the Skeldon Factory in reaching its highest daily production since being commissioned in August 2009, recorded 515 tonnes of sugar, surpassing its previous highest of 501 tonnes which was achieved in September 2012.
Last Wednesday also, the industry recorded its highest daily production of 1,785 tonnes of sugar surpassing its previous highest of 1,699 tonnes which was also achieved earlier in this crop.
Uitvlugt Estate completed its second crop for 2015 on Saturday October 17, 2015 and produced 7,847 tonnes of sugar surpassing its target by 733 tonnes.
“Further, the estate produced 16,428 tonnes of sugar for the year surpassing its year’s target by 1,065 tonnes.”
GuySuCo also announced yesterday that it has awarded its junior staffers and rank and file employees on the seven estates a total of $285.7M for their achievement of 26 weekly production incentives for the first crop, 2015.
For the second crop, the Corporation has doled out $531.5M for their achievement of 47 weekly production incentives.
As at yesterday, sugar production for the crop to date is 95,983 tonnes or 65.6 % of the estimate for the crop.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Agriculture, speaking on the COI report yesterday explained that the Commission members over the past three months deliberated on the future of the sugar industry. They were expected to address the future of the industry that has a 16,000-strong workforce through the development of a 15-year plan.
The plan is expected to bring GuySuCo back to profitability. Commission Chairman Vibert Parvatan, the Ministry said, noted that in going forward, the recommendations by the eleven-member Commission will ensure long-term environmental and economic sustainability.
“We (Commission) are pleased to have completed the study which took into account critical issues and major constraints affecting the industry….the COI team remains thankful to the many organizations and people who assisted the work of the Commission,” Parvatan said.
The COI, over the past three months, examined the current state of cane cultivation, factory operations, production and marketing of sugar, molasses and other by-products.
Emphasis was also placed on human resource capabilities, research and development, diversification of the industry, community obligations, weather events, marketing, finance, procurement, factory performance and management, the Ministry said yesterday.
Permanent Secretary, George Jervis, lauded the effort of the Commission, describing the members as competent in pronouncing on the future of the sugar industry.
In addition to Parvatan, the COI members were Professor Clive Thomas – Financial and Economic Analysis; Dr. Harold Davis and Mr. John Piggot -Agronomists; John Dow and Joseph Alfred – Factory Operations; George James – Sugar Processing; Nowrang Persaud – Industrial Relations; Claude Housty -Marketing; Seepaul Narine, union official and. Omadatt Chandan- the Commission’s Secretary.
The COI report will be handed over to Noel Holder, Minister of Agriculture, who is at present in Cancun, Mexico on official business after which it will be presented to the Cabinet of Ministers for further deliberations.
Since taking power in May, the new coalition Government under Granger sacked the Board of Directors and its Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Rajendra Singh, citing mismanagement and poor performance.
GuySuCo itself, in addition to returning a string of low production, has been producing sugar at double the prices it earns.
The industry has been touch political football for years now.
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