Press Release – Guysuco – Combined Chambers








PRESS
RELEASE

May 29, 2017

From:

The Private Sector Commission (PSC)
and its affiliates, the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce & Industry (GCCI), the
Upper Corentyne Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Linden Chamber of Industry,
Commerce and Development, the Region 3 Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Central
Corentyne Chamber of Commerce and the Berbice Chamber of Commerce and
Development Association

PRIVATE SECTOR EXTREMELY CONCERNED
OVER DOWNSCALING OF SUGAR INDUSTRY AND CLOSURE OF ESTATES

The Guyana
Sugar Corporation (Guysuco) came into being as a state owned entity in 1976,
when it was nationalized. The sugar industry has continued to play a
significant role in the overall economy of Guyana.

The industry
remains the largest employer other than Government and the main foreign
currency earner. Guysuco’s role has expanded to include providing Drainage and
Irrigation for many communities and other sectors as well as providing
community health services.

In recent
years, however, the corporation has delivered financial losses and has become
dependent on Government/taxpayers subvention to enable continued operation. Many
factors have been attributed to the declining performance of the industry, not
the least of which was the loss of the preferential pricing of the lucrative EU
market. There is the view that these could be addressed to turn around the
industry.

Government has
expressed its intention to downscale the sugar industry and to commence with
the closure of estates.

In recognition
of the critical importance of the sugar industry, the private sector makes the
following observations:

1.  
The
Government-initiated Commissioner of Enquiry (COI) did not recommend closure of
any estate but, on the contrary, recommended divestment into private hands (See
Volume 1 of COI page 36, section 7, sub-section 1, 11,111,1V).

 

2.  
A
review of Guysuco’s audited financial statements for the year 2015 reveals that
more than G$10.0B would be removed from private employment income should
Government proceed with the closure of estates.
This, in turn, would have a direct negative effect on consumer spending
in the communities which, directly or indirectly, depend upon income, from
sugar. Such a decline in consumer
spending would also have a diminishing impact upon all commerce with
concomitant negative spin-off effects on the economy as a whole.

 

3.  
Guysuco
is a major earner of foreign exchange. Closure of any estates would, therefore,
severely impact upon the availability of foreign exchange and increase the
price at which it is sold.

 

4.  
The
restoration of Guyana’s economy is inevitably, and intimately, linked to the
future of sugar.

It would be
sad to lose the sugar industry and realize five years later that this would
have been a success story. We must learn from the history of the scrapping of
the railway which would have opened up our country to development

Our members
are located across the length and breadth of Guyana and the survival of their
businesses depends upon a public that spends on goods and services. Most income
generation is derived from employment and when this is reduced significantly it
affects the entire chain, from manufacturing and importation to household
consumption.

 

 

The private
sector calls on Government to hold its hand on the current approach towards
closure of estates.

The private
sector stands ready to place its considerable experience at the disposal of and
to work with Government to explore all possible options to avert closure.

END

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