After more than seven years of plugging in excess of $348B to assist Guyana in recovering from a crippling 36 percent price cut in sugar, it appears that the European Union (EU) may be unwilling to give more.
The last disbursement occurred last year, with EU’s ambassador Jernej Videtiè making it clear yesterday that no more help is forthcoming at this time for the troubled industry.
The envoy was speaking, along with several officials during a press conference.
Between 2006 and 2016, the money never went directly to the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) but to the Treasury, where the administration of the day would determine how to use the funds.
According to the officials, the disbursements were never based on how well the sugar industry did, but rather, on indicators measuring reforms, which Guyana passed.
Guyana was among more than 18 countries, including Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados and St. Kitts and Nevis, that benefitted from the Accompanying Measures for Sugar Protocol countries (AMSP) to support a number of African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries that were adjusting to the 2006 reform of the EU’s sugar regime. That year saw the implementation of a 36 percent phased price cut for countries that sold sugar to the EU.
The AMSPs supported a wide variety of projects that ranged from improving competitiveness to promoting diversification.
The budget is distributed among the beneficiary countries according to their needs, depending on the level of impact of the reform and on the importance of the sector in their economies.
The confirmation that no immediate plans are there for further financing to the sugar industry, comes as the EU prepares to allow more beet sugar, produced in Europe, to flood the market there, after farmers protested for a larger market share.
Guyana would badly want more help from the EU, as its sugar industry is in dire straits, with 17,000 workers and a large chunk of its foreign exchange earnings at stake.
Last year, the century-old Wales estate, West Bank Demerara was closed with two more – Rose Hall in Berbice, and Enmore, on the East Coast of Demerara, slated to also be closed.
Prices of sugar, GuySuCo said this week, have also fallen by 30 percent on the world market making the cost of production almost three times what the state-owned company is selling for.
There have been several protests, organized by the Opposition-aligned unions in recent weeks, over the closure of estates.
Government insists that it cannot continue to spend billions annually to bail the industry out.
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