We have a plan to make sugar vi­able – Jagdeo

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For­mer

Pres­i­dent, Bhar­rat Jagdeo, has said at a PPP press con­fer­ence last week that un­like the present gov­ern­ment, the PPP/C ad­min­is­tra­tion had a plan to make the sugar in­dus­try vi­able.

Jagdeo, now also PPP Gen­eral Sec­re­tary, has ques­tioned the ba­sis for de­ci­sion-mak­ing on the sugar in­dus­try. He has also high­lighted the move by the Granger ad­min­is­tra­tion to of­fer Skel­don Es­tate for sale while talks are on­go­ing with the op­po­si­tion and sugar unions on the fu­ture of the in­dus­try.

How is it that Pres­i­dent David Granger has not taken re­spon­si­bil­ity for a Mem­o­ran­dum of Un­der­stand­ing (MOU) signed by the Guyana Of­fice for In­vest­ment (Go-In­vest) to give two com­pa­nies – one com­pany sup­ply­ing auto parts in Trinidad and Tobago and an­other lo­cal com­pany re­pair­ing ve­hi­cles and sup­ply­ing parts – huge ben­e­fits, in­clud­ing the op­tion of a takeover of the Skel­don Sugar fac­tory? He asked

A Trinidad and Tobago com­pany, with no ex­pe­ri­ence in the ar­eas of pro­duc­ing bulk rum or the pro­duc­tion ethanol, has been en­gaged by the cur­rent Gov­ern­ment, via GO-In­vest, to look at de­vel­op­ing an in­te­grated sug­ar­cane pro­cess­ing fa­cil­ity at the Skel­don Sugar Es­tate. A Mem­o­ran­dum of Un­der­stand­ing (MoU) was inked be­tween D. Ram­per­sad and Com­pany Lim­ited (DRCL) and Gov­ern­ment on De­cem­ber 8, 2016, for the un­der­tak­ing of a fea­si­bil­ity study to de­ter­mine the suc­cess of such a ven­ture which will see it taking over the Skel­don Es­tate. Noel ‘Rupie’ Shew­jat­tan, the owner of Auto Fash­ion Store on Gar­nett Street, Camp­bel­lville, Ge­orge­town, signed the doc­u­ment as a wit­ness.

Not­ing that Granger has said he is in­ter­ested in con­sul­ta­tions on the way for­ward for the sugar sec­tor, he said, “We at­tended the first meet­ing. A let­ter was writ­ten by the (for­mer PPP) Gen­eral Sec­re­tary (Cle­ment Ro­hee) and we had asked for more in­for­ma­tion. A bit of that has come to us, but we are still wait­ing on the stud­ies that are the ba­sis on which they are mak­ing de­ci­sions.

“If you re­pu­di­ate the Com­mis­sion of In­quiry re­port (on the Guyana Sugar Cor­po­ra­tion), which you spent $70M on….a defini- tive and in depth study, as far as I am con­cerned that rec­om­mended the clo­sure of no es­tate….on what ba­sis, on what study are you mak­ing de­ci­sions?”

Jagdeo also ques­tioned whether an eco­nomic fea­si­bil­ity study has been done on the way for­ward, as op­posed to a fi­nan­cial study. “Have we looked at the so­cial im­pact, the cost to the coun­try, etc.? We would like to see those doc­u­ments, so that if they seem rea­son­able we can par­tic­i­pate, but we don’t have any ac­cess to those doc­u­ments.”

He made clear that the po­lit­i­cal Op­po­si­tion can­not par­tic­i­pate fully in dis­cus­sions on the fu­ture of the sugar in­dus­try, un­less the nec­es­sary doc­u­ments are pro­vided. “We can­not par- tic­i­pate fully, un­less we see the doc­u­ments and can say here is the ap­proach. We had a pro­gramme to make sugar vi­able,” Jagdeo said, mak­ing clear that the Op­po­si­tion wants to be able to par­tic­i­pate fully in the en­gage­ments on sugar.

Ad­dress­ing Granger’s ex­pressed con­cerns about the in­vest­ments needed in the sugar sec­tor, he un­der­scored the fact that bil­lons are spent on things like the De­mer­ara Dis­tillers Lim­ited (DDL) set­tle­ment, yet the gov­ern­ment laments in­vest­ing in a ma­jor sec­tor like sugar.

“There seems to be no tech­ni­cal or eco­nomic ba­sis on which the de­ci­sions are made, they are all po­lit­i­cal. And if they are po­lit­i­cal then we would not have a role to play be­cause those are all pre­con­ceived ideas,” Jagdeo de­clared.

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