We have a plan to make sugar viable – Jagdeo
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.