It is very difficult to determine when the leader of the Opposition, Mr. Bharrat Jagdeo, is taking an intellectually valid, reasoned stance on a number of issues or reacting in a knee-jerk, spiteful fashion, opposing for opposing sake.
Very seldom has he heaped praise on the government. Everyone knows that the job of the Opposition Leader is to oppose in order to convince the electorate that his party is a valid alternative to the Government. But there is a difference between opposing when there is need to do so and in the interest of the country and the people, or to object just to be obstructionist.
Since losing the election, the PPP first act as the opposition was to challenge the election results in court, mischievously suggesting to the people, particularly its supporters that there was collusion between GECOM and the APNU+AFC coalition. The PPP also boycotted Parliament and opposed the budget and all Government Bills in the National Assembly. These were not credible acts by the PPP.
In less than one month in office, the government was told of the poor state of GUYSUCO and had to bail it out immediately in the amount of G$12 billion. A new Board of Directors and an Interim Management Committee were appointed by the government to manage GUYSUCO.
The team confirmed the Government’s worse fears that the corporation was bankrupt and an infusion of billions of dollars were needed to keep it afloat.
Truth be told, the government inherited the Skeldon Sugar factory which according to the Minister of Agriculture was overpriced by US$60 million. The US$200 million factory, commissioned by President Jagdeo had been a drag on the sugar industry and on the taxpayers. It has only started to produce positively for the first time last year.
Despite efforts by the government to revive the sugar industry; it is in much deeper financial trouble than expected as demands for sugar on the world marked have declined.
GUYSUCO is facing serious problems and the government has been searching for solutions to turn it around. With its revenues shrinking, and the cost to produce sugar increasing, the Government had to make the most difficult decision to close the Wales Sugar Factory at the end of the year, with the full understanding of the impact its decision would have on the livelihood of thousands of sugar workers and members of the Wales community.
The Commission of Inquiry (COI) set-up by the government to find solutions to the problems facing GUYUCO did not recommend the closure of the Wales estate. Nonetheless, some felt that it was a sound decision which the government had to make due to the gloomy outlook for sugar prices in the foreseeable future. Others believe that it should have been sold or privatized. The COI projected that the estate will lose between $1.6 and $1.9 Billion this year and it is by far the estate in poorest shape.
Therefore, to divert scarce funds from the good estates to keep it afloat was no longer feasible as the survivability of the other estates could be jeopardized.
The Diamond and La Bonne Intention sugar estates which were in poor conditions and were deemed too costly to maintain were closed by Mr. Jagdeo. So why is he condemning the government for closing the Wales estate? The answer is to score cheap political points. It is hypocritical and wicked for Jagdeo to mislead the people by telling them that the government’s decision to close the factory is deliberate.
GUYSUCO became a retarded son under Jagdeo. Reducing costs and losses, increase efficiency and the production of sugar have become the top priority for the government to ensure the survival of GUYSUCO.
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