Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo has said that while sugar workers, both in the field and factory, must be commended for their record production this year, the state of the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) remains a matter of concern for government.
The Prime Minister said he was happy that workers who were engaged in two strike actions over the last month have returned to work at a time when they are poised to make history with the highest annual target since 2004.
GuySuCo is likely to record production above 214,000 tonnes at the end of this crop. “They have shown that with better leadership they can achieve high levels of production which in turn will impact on wage levels,” Nagamootoo added.
The Prime Minister believes that this level of production is testimony to the APNU+AFC government’s argument that efficiency and competency in leadership were missing.
He said despite this good news, the government is confronted with an industry that is not only at the edge of insolvency but highly indebted. Mr. Nagamootoo noted that GuySuCo is a company that has run down the sugar industry and placed it in debt of $82.2 billion.
“So if you were to divide the number of workers in sugar industry and allocate portions of the debt to each of them it would be in excess of $5 million. So they put a debt tag on each worker,” Nagamootoo explained.
He reminded of the annual bail out of taxpayers’ money that the government is forced to give the industry. “So we have to explain to sugar workers that government is bailing them out because of bad management in the past, we have teachers and nurses asking what about them.”
Nagamootoo said in the short term, GuySuCo must stand on its own feet and as such he is happy with the upward trend in production.
He said the Commission of Inquiry that was set up to investigate the ailing industry and make recommendations has already discussed some of its findings with government. These findings Nagamootoo explained will be used by Cabinet in the short term to decide the way forward.