Dec 24, 2015 News
Government is not likely to make any major decisions soon, when it comes to the future of the country’s sugar industry.
A recently completed report of a Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo), is currently being assessed by the Cabinet of Ministers. There was confirmation yesterday that the new administration wants more public consultations.
Speaking to the press yesterday, following Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting during which the industry was a major focus, Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, disclosed that the CoI report had been given to the ministers to study and make recommendations.
According to Harmon, Minister of Agriculture, Noel Holder, has submitted a number of proposals for consideration to help the struggling industry back on its footing.
“His proposals have to do with the options available to make the industry viable, in the near future.”
It was agreed in Cabinet that given the importance of the sugar industry, to the national economy and the number of persons who depend on it for a livelihood, that there was need for wider consultation with all stakeholders and the general public, Minister Harmon said.
The Ministers on Tuesday also agreed that the CoI report will be sent to the National Assembly for deliberations before any final decisions are made on GuySuCo.
Responding to questions yesterday, Harmon admitted that the CoI report recommended increase efficiency for GuySuCo’s estates in Demerara and Berbice.
Already, a number of actions are being taken, including the merging of estates to cut costs.
One of these includes closer collaboration between Uitvlugt and Wales estates on West Demerara.
GuySuCo is mulling recommendations to have Uitvlugt grind the canes instead of both factories in operations.
Harmon noted that even before the CoI report, GuySuCo had started taking some actions to increase efficiency.
Sugar has been a major drag of the economy in recent years with production falling to a two-decade low and targets continually missed, despite billions pumped annually to prop the industry.
With an estimated 16,000 workers, GuySuCo is struggling with production costs double the price it is selling for.
The David Granger administration, since taking office in May, sacked the entire GuySuCo Board of Directors and its Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Raj Singh, appointing a CoI which findings would have helped map the way forward for the industry.
This year, for the first time in more than a decade, the industry has managed to surpass its annual target.
Sugar production as of yesterday stood at 229,215 tonnes, surpassing the projected target of 227,443 tonnes.
For the second crop, four estates – Skeldon, Albion, Blairmount and Uitvlugt – exceeded their production targets with the Skeldon factory recording its highest output since its commissioning.
It is anticipated that there will be no canes carried over into the first crop of 2016.
The Skeldon factory performed creditably during the second crop and the average throughput was 230 tonnes cane per hour which is a marked improvement from previous levels, the Ministry of Agriculture reported yesterday.
The Ministry also reported that the World Market Price (WMP) for raw sugar continues to be way below the levels of two to three years ago, and impacted negatively on the price GuySuCo obtained from sugar sales.
Sugar production for 2016 is projected at 242,287 tonnes, a five per cent increase over the 2015 production. Grinding operations for the first crop will commence at the end of January.
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