Aug 04, 2022 News
…accuses CEO of incompetence, misleading industry stakeholders
By Zena Henry
Kaieteur News – AGRONOMIST, Anthony Vieira has resigned as a Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) board member following what he said is corruption, incompetence and dishonesty on the part of some company executives.
The former board member related in a public missive yesterday, that GuySuCo has embarked on measures that are not in the best interest of the already ailing company, and he will not be part of it.
Vieira stated that the company’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) (Sasenarine Singh) has been telling “untruths to his board, his President (Irfaan Ali) and the nation.” Of the troubling issues, is the acquisition of costly tractors, which are said to be “unsuitable” for the company’s tilling requirements.
This newspaper had published several articles surrounding the purchase of GAME articulated tractors verses John Deere fixed frame, which included an apparent, disconnect between the board and the executive over the “unsuitability” of the machines.
At the time, Vieira told the newspaper when asked, that there were differences between the company’s executives and board over the machines, but offered no insight. In his letter, Vieira said that he was unable to respond to the media reports given his position on the board, but has now gone in-depth with the matter. “At first the CEO of GuySuCo wanted to buy 22 of those articulated tractors,” the board member posited. He went on that the (only) two members of the entire Board who worked in and understand the sugar industry were against the concept of replacing the John Deere fixed frame tractor with one whose only purpose is to pull trailers. As a result, he said that President Ali instructed the company to buy two of the tractors for a trial adjudicated by the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA); which was done at the Albion East Berbice estate. “The CEO orchestrated the biggest deception I have ever seen, in that at the trial, no member of the board was present, including me, the chairman of the field Operations Committee, who was a main objector to the purchase of these articulated machines…” Vieira alleged. He continued that “the MOA and the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) sent representatives who had absolutely no understanding of how a tractor works in a field pulling a plough.
GuySuCo’s CEO thus arranged the staging of this entire trial and not only was no member of the Board invited to witness the trial, no representative of John Deere was invited either, Vieira said in a letter first published by the Stabroek News. Vieira accused the CEO further, of putting a two-year-old John Deere machine to compete with a brand new articulated tractor, and that the articulated tractor’s representatives from the United States, were present at the trial, with “one of them… even operating the articulated machine during the trial.” Vieira said he refused to accept the results of the trial, especially since one of the two machines brought in for the trial broke down after working for a few days.
Since the trial several months ago, the said machine has been inoperable, “and they are now discovering that the machine is made up of a hodge-podge of parts from all over the world, making acquiring parts next to impossible.” With all of this information at hand, Vieira said GuySuCo has recently decided to buy eight more of the articulated tractors.
Vieria said management does not fully understand that the local industry is changing from hand labour to mechanical harvesting operations. “And they do not comprehend, even now, that you can’t tell your Board that in most years there are only 75 days when ploughing can be done by machines due to the wet nature of the soil, but you can continue the scheduling of harvesting your cane for 220 days per year by machines.” He highlighted that Louisiana in the USA, with low lying lands experience about the same heavy rainfall as Guyana but sees a cropping season of 100 days. Vieira charged that “there can only be one explanation for all of this!! And like an iceberg this tractor story is only the tip of the wicked agenda being executed in GuySuCo today.”
When news of the “unsuitable” tractors broke, GuySuCo’s CEO had just signed for six articulated tractors worth over $200M from the Ministry of Agriculture. Stakeholders told the newspaper that the tractors were unsuitable for the tilling job and that the same money could have purchased eight John Deere tractors that would have performed more efficiently. The newspaper also reported that the CEO was seeking G$1B from government to buy more of the articulated tractors as he mostly blamed the absence of tilling equipment for low sugar outputs.
The newspaper reported further that a proposal from the GAME Company to provide the articulated tractors to GuySuCo had shown that the machine was used exclusively for haulage since that is what the company’s recommendation letters spoke to as well as the machine’s description, while GuySuCo’s requirement in the proposal spoke to the machines for tillage. Stakeholders suggested something fishy with the purchase of the GAME tractors since the US company’s financial records showed that it was not making profit for three consecutive years; and also supported the theory that the company’s money was tied up in unsold assets. Stakeholders questioned whether GuySuCo was bailing out the company by buying up its unsold assets and why. GuySuCo in a full page advertisement some time back, refuted all claims. When contacted for a comment yesterday, the CEO told the newspaper he was heading into a NCN interview and could not speak.
A leaked audio has nonetheless surfaced relating to the said tractors. In a heated argument between the GuySuCo board and its executives during a meeting, the CEO was accused of being incompetent and unsuitable to management of the sugar company, while he accused the board of being unfair and not providing him with the right to reply.
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