Leader of the Opposition, Bharat Jagdeo, has blasted the coalition government over the way the government has been dealing with the sugar industry in Guyana, saying that instead of trying to stop the “massive hemorrhaging” of the sugar industry, the government appears more focused on closure and misleading the public.
Jagdeo earlier today, at his weekly press conference, said that PPP is “ready to talk to government about Guysuco”. He noted that the Chairman of Guysuco, Dr Clive Thomas who is also the head of the SARU (State Asset Recovery Unit) had come out without completing investigations and announced his intention to “lock up people”.
Jagdeo further stated that an instance of this is as in the Guysuco situation, “to present the company as a basket case.”
“If you examine some articles published by Clive Thomas in 2014, his positions today, are exactly the same as those made public in 2014, he came into that job with preconceived ideas.”
“Most of the people they (Guysuco) have rehired are failures and never managed a successful business in their life, some of them on the board (Guysuco), we are putting the future of the industry into the hands of a few people who are incompetent at the best.”
He continued that Guyanese have continued to see varying views of the sugar industry from different government officials, noting most recently Tony Veira’s view that closing the sugar industry would be disastrous.
The former President went on to say that Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo and Clive Thomas were the ones who had boasted that within the first six months of them taking office, the Skeldon factory was performing as it had never performed before.
He further questioned how is it possible that the factory can go from high performance in the first six months to the government now blaming the former PPP administration for the current sugar industry woes.
“Now we see this report saying that it has been run down, there has been no maintenance, of course it will run down if there is no maintenance.”
Jagdeo also pointed out the fact that “sugar is at least 15% of Gross Domestic Product itself, just imagine removing that from the economy, it will have economic turmoil, it would have huge consequences for the economy and for our Macro position.”
Mr. Jagdeo also brought the impending closure of the Wales estate into perspective by comparing when the PPP first got into office by saying that had they (PPP) stopped the electricity subsidisation in Linden, even though the economy was around US $300M, and the subsidy was affecting the economy, they did not because the people mattered.
He stressed that the present government needs to “stop being so partisan” to the sugar industry and to stop with these advocates of closure and privatisation as well as to stop using them to mislead the public that if the sugar industry is closed the country’s economy would do better.
He further noted that should the Wales closure actually happen, then the government should see that the people of Wales and the West Bank of Demerara receive the same treatment as a depressed community, “they should pay the same rate for electricity and water as the people in Linden.”
It was under Jagdeo’s time in office that the sugar industry started its rapid decline. It was also during that time that the Skeldon factory was built with several problems that never saw it becoming fully functional.