Oct 25, 2020 Letters
The re-opening of three of the four sugar factories shuttered by the Granger-led so-called coalition government is a clear indication that President Irfaan Ali’s PPP/C administration has fulfilled one of its key campaign promises to the people. It was a decision the PPP/C government has made because it believes in the hard work and sacrifice the sugar workers have made and in the financial contribution, the sugar industry has made over the years in the building and development of the country. In Guyana, it is unusual for governments to act swiftly on campaign promises they have made to the people, but kudos to President Ali’s government for keeping its promise to the sugar workers. It was a good decision.
Whereas, the Granger -coalition government has acted only on a few of the campaign promises it made to the people in 2015. Not only have they squandered the trust and goodwill accorded to them by the citizens of Guyana in 2015, but while in office for five years, they have ignored the wishes of the people. Many, including the disgruntled APNU+AFC have opined that it was reckless for the PPP/C government to spend billions of the taxpayers’ money to re-open the sugar factories at a time when the cost of producing sugar in Guyana has skyrocketed while the price for sugar on the world market has declined significantly.
However, in his sharpest defense of the government’s decision to re-open the three closed sugar factories, GUYSUCO’s new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Sasenarine Singh has condemned the decision by the last government to close the sugar estates and placed more than 7,000 sugar workers on the breadline. The new CEO has acknowledged that GuySuCo is indeed insolvent but he is confident that the sugar corporation could be on the mend and could break even and become profitable again in the not too distant future.
It has been said in many circles that if there is anyone who is qualified and competent to revamp “King Sugar” and restore the nation’s confidence in GuySuCo, it is its new CEO, Singh. Since his appointment as the CEO of GuySuCo less than two months ago, Singh has not only made numerous visits to the closed sugar factories to obtain first-hand information, but he has also made the tough decision to re-employ almost 1000 laid-off sugar workers to help refurbish the physical structure of the sugar estates and overhaul its machinery and equipment, and in the process, rebuild the various communities that have been atrophied by the ill-conceived shut-down. According to the CEO, the damage done to the factories, its turbine engines, boilers and vehicles etc., is extensive and inconceivable and the cost to the taxpayers is in excess of more than $5 billion. The CEO is fully aware of the herculean task he faces in resurrecting three sugar factories and to make them operational, yet he is convinced that under his leadership, it will be done.
An accountant by profession and with years of management experience, Singh who is very astute, creative and brilliant has developed a number of strategies/plans to lift GUYSUCO out of the morass in has been in for decades. Included in his strategies/plans are the production of several by-products of sugar cane such as ethanol, molasses and bagasse, to name a few. The CEO has mandated a human resource audit to determine the quality and number of requisite personnel needed for the proper functioning of GUYSUCO. This single act could reduce GuySuCo’s overhead cost as well as the cost to produce sugar.
It is known that Singh is not a Noble Laureate, but he is smart, talented, skillful and experienced, and more importantly he has the drive, knowledge and ability to resurrect the industry, increase the production of sugar and reduce its production cost. The goal is to make GuySuCo viable. It is both a daunting and a gruelling task, but make no mistake, Singh is the right person for the job. As the CEO, Singh will make Guyanese in general, especially the sugar workers in particular, proud of GuySuCo. We must support him.
Dr. Asquith Rose
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