$2B subsidy for GuySuCo
Despite benefitting from $9B at the start of the year, only to deliver a disappointing performance in less than eight months, the sugar industry is poised to receive yet another billion-dollar bailout. Members of the National Assembly approved some USD 2B for the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo). The state-owned entity had initially stated that it desperately needed USD 3.5B. Kaieteur News understands that the approved subsidy is what the Government can afford at this time. The bailout was supported during the consideration of Financial Paper No. 3/2016 – Supplementary Estimates (Current and Capital) totaling USD 9,518,122,347. This paper was presented to the House by Finance Minister, Winston Jordan. Minister of Agriculture, Noel Holder fielded questions on the sugar sector from the PPP. He was asked by Opposition Member, Irfaan Ali what provision was made in the said subsidy for wage increases and incentives for the sugar workers. Ali also asked if subsequent to the El Niño effect on the sugar industry, if the production target for the sector was revised. Holder said that the target was indeed amended. He said that the target came down by 194,000 tonnes, which it is still hoping to achieve by the end of the year. The Parliamentarian said that this USD 2B subsidy is to help meet routine expenditure and it is in relation to the second crop for the sector. The Agriculture Minister said that these sums are required to pay wages in the sum of USD 1.2B; fuel costing USD 160M, fertilizers pegged at USD 464M and USD 176M for creditors. Holder was also asked by the Opposition to give a breakdown of the monies going towards wages. He said that the USD 1.2B is going to workers in both the factories and field. He undertook to provide further information in this regard in a week’s time. The Opposition accepted this. The allocated sum subsequently received the support of the members of the House. According to statistics from the Ministry of Finance for the first half of the year, the Guyana Sugar Corporation recorded an operating surplus of USD 2.9 billion, down from an operating surplus of USD 3.0 billion for the same period last year. This surplus, it said, was inflated by a USD 9 billion transfer from the Central Government to finance operations. Without this transfer, the Ministry of Finance noted that GuySuCo’s true position would be a deficit of USD 6 billion.