As sugar continues to struggle, the state-owned corporation has embarked on a number of
cost-cutting measures and other initiatives to right the faltering industry.
This week, the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) announced plans to release over 2,000 acres of lands on the East Coast of Demerara.
GuySuCo is hoping that the proceeds of the sale of the lands would help to dent a massive $82B in debt that the corporation has racked up to suppliers, banks, and other creditors. That debt would represent a third of the country’s annual budget.
While the industry managed to meet its target of over 227,000 tonnes of sugar last year, the cash situation has continued to show a dismal trend over the past decade.
With over 17,000 workers depending on the industry, the David Granger administration which took office last year inherited the same problem facing its predecessor, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) – that is, how to cut losses without causing untold harm to the workers and the country.
None of the political parties have been willing to anger the workers who traditionally have largely been voting for the PPP/C.
Foreign exchange earned from sugar exports has been among the top three for the country for over a decade now, along with gold and rice, something that Guyana can ill-afford to dispense with.
Speaking with Kaieteur News on Wednesday, Chief Executive Officer of GuySuCo, Errol Hanoman, who was brought back last year to steady the corporation, explained that advertisements this week in the Guyana Chronicle asking for proposals for the land, is part of the re-organisation process.
According to the ad, GuySuCo is asking for Expressions of Interest for portions of transported lands at Industry, Ogle, Goedverwagting and Sparendaam, East Coast Demerara.
GuySuCo wants to sell the land in no less than plots of one acres.
According to the GuySuCo’s chief, the proposals will have to conform to the overall plan for the development of country. This means that proper zoning will be factored in.
GuySuCo is also selling several plots of lands for housing in areas including Mandela Avenue and along Liliendaal and Ogle, on the East Coast of Demerara.
According to Hanoman, the 2,000-plus acres are in essence the remaining sections from the integration process of cane lands in the East Demerara estates.
He explained that GuySuCo is finalizing the process of ensuring that operations are efficient.
Already, GuySuCo has started preparations to remove its headquarters from Ogle to LBI, an estate a few miles that has been merged with Enmore.
The Ogle headquarters is slated to become a training school for public servants. Works have begun to refurbish the Ogle buildings, the official said.
The move to LBI is expected by January. A number of departments which were scattered around, will now be centralized, allowing for costs to be reduced further.
“We are experiencing a serious situation at the moment with our debts. The measures to centralize our operations at LBI and the completion of the merging of LBI and Enmore are all part of the process,” Hanoman explained.
But for the measures, it may take a while for GuySuCo to turn a corner.
Its first crop for this year fell short by almost 30 percent to almost 57,000 tonnes. GuySuCo has targeted 240,000 tonnes this year.
The company has already received from Government in excess of $21B for this year, thus far, to help in restructuring and to pay expenses.
At the current trends, GuySuCo will need an annual subvention in excess of $10B, Hanoman has said. The forecast is not looking so good this year. A late start to the second crop coupled with strikes, drought and now rains, have been proving a challenge.
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