Context of lower production by GuySuCo was ignored.
April 21, 2017 Source
The Guyana Sugar Corporation Inc. (GuySuCo) wishes to respond to a letter published in the Stabroek News on April 5, 2017 and titled ‘GAWU is predicting low production figure for first crop’ and authored by Mr. Sase Singh .
In his letter Mr. Singh noted ‘I couldn’t believe what I was reading when I got the Combat newspapers in my inbox. For the record, the Combat is printed by the GAWU, the largest workers’ union in Guyana. In the Combat, it is clearly stated that as at the week ending March 25, 2017, GuySuCo produced 20,037 tonnes of sugar from a target of 74,172 (or 27%).’
Mr. Singh further proceeded to cast blame for the low production on various sections of GuySuCo’s management; and the management would not abdicate its responsibility. Indeed, the management of the Corporation has a responsibility to manage the entity as efficiently as possible, to produce the highest quality of sugar and it takes that responsibility very seriously.
Additionally, GuySuCo would be the first to admit that the production target of March 25, 2017 was lower than expected; the production figures are public information. However, a fundamental and important aspect which Sase Singh missed, is context. That is, the organizational and wider societal context in which GuySuCo has found itself at this point in time.
Mr. Singh’s letter is also very superficial. One would have thought that he would have done some reasonable research before writing. If his research had covered earlier releases and articles relating to the sugar corporation, he would have better understood some of the deeper issues confronting the Guyana sugar industry. The industry’s problems did not happen overnight. It was already in deep crisis when the interim management committee and new Board were appointed in June and July, 2015, respectively. It was soon recognized that addressing the ills of the Corporation and industry could only be done by serious reorganization which is a pre-requisite for retooling and improving productivity. This has been the focus of the current management and Board. Additionally, the El Nino phenomenon and the erratic weather pattern which followed were not “caused by management”.
On the Skeldon Estate situation: The Co-generation plant was sold to Skeldon Energy Inc. (SEI) in February, 2015. SEI subsequently commissioned an audit of the co-generation plant by Wartsilla which indicated that the plant was in a very poor state. In mid-2016, SEI had to obtain funding for a limited programme to improve the safety of the plant. Unfortunately, this was not enough, by the end of the second crop 2016, further work was needed to render the co-generation plant safe to operate. The Corporation had no option but to defer the start of the 2017 crop for safety reasons. Mr. .Singh attributes this to lack of proper planning. We do believe that this is more a function of the extent of the deteriorated state of the plant and the very limited funds which are available to address the problem.
Why is production low? Much has been said over the past months about the state of the industry and the underlying causes. While the Corporation has been working tirelessly on those factors which are within its control, the solutions are not overnight fixes and the El Nino experience followed by the erratic weather which continues to date, do not help.
Therefore, while production is a part of the focus of the Corporation for 2017, its primary focus is aimed at clearly defining the future of the industry and strengthening the organization to ensure that it is fit-for–purpose, or rather, fit to meet the demands of the ‘New GuySuCo’.
As most persons are aware, the ‘New GuySuCo’ will include two components – sugar and diversification. The organizational strengthening aspect includes improving systems and structures and developing, recruiting and positioning appropriate skills and expertise to ensure that the Corporation has not only the right capacity but also the right capabilities to secure a future entity that is resilient, sustainable and eventually profitable.
The management is cognizant of the fact that in order for productivity to be increased, it has to as a preliminary step, bring stability to the business; and this is being done by focusing on resuscitating the vital organs of the Corporation – its systems and structures.
Another critical area of focus is changing the current organizational behavioural patterns. For example, strikes are doing much harm to the business, hence the urgent need to foster more collaborative working relationships with the three Unions to reduce strikes and explore alternative means of resolving disagreements in the industry. In 2016 alone, there were 148 strikes and 44,500 man-days were lost. This has to change moving forward.
Additionally, the Corporation is addressing the huge issue of poor attendance by harvesters on estates, since if adequate labour is not available to harvest the canes in a timely manner, productivity will invariably be low.
In concluding, as Mr. Singh examines the industry and its productivity, we hope that this letter will assist in broadening his perspective beyond the financial and accounting aspects to factor in the more complex organizational and societal context within which GuySuCo is operating. We also hope that we have given him some assurances on our larger focus for re-designing, re-organizing and re-engineering the Corporation and more specifically, the core agenda for 2017.
Senior Communications Officer
Guyana Sugar Corporation Inc.
GAWU is predicting low production figure for first crop.
April 5, 2017 Source
I couldn’t believe what I was reading when I got the Combat newspapers in my inbox. For the record, the Combat is printed by the GAWU, the largest workers’ union in Guyana. In the Combat, it is clearly stated that as at the week ending March 25, 2017, GuySuCo produced 20,037 tonnes of sugar from a target of 74,172 (or 27%). I was advised only six weeks was left before the 2017 first crop terminates. As expected Skeldon produced zero tonnes to date because it was prematurely shuttered in this 2017 first crop under the pretext of another lame excuse from Mr Hanoman and Friends. But what this exposed is that there was no proper project planning at that estate in the second crop of 2016. This is shocking because even in the hard days in the 1980s, GuySuCo always prepped its factories and machinery at the end of the previous year’s second crop in preparation for the next first crop. So how come the management of Skeldon did not know they had a problem on the co-generation plant before the first crop started?
I immediately called my contact in GuySuCo to find out the prospect for the next six weeks, and when I thought that GAWU was being pessimistic, the GuySuCo insider dropped an even bigger bombshell on the table. I was advised that the corporation is not expecting to produce more than 45,000 tonnes for the 2017 first crop (60% performance). This will result in an immediate loss to the nation of some US$16 million in real foreign currency inflow.
So how can the Minister tell me and the rest of the public that there is enough foreign currency in the system for the first half of 2017? I can now concur with my dear friend Ramon Gaskin who on a ‘Plain Talk’ programme in March 2017 with Chris Ram said that Guyana will be importing sugar for domestic consumption in under two years’ time. At this rate, his prediction will come true before its due date.
The reality is that sugar cane fields are being abandoned.
April 21, 2017 Source
Here are facts: Wales Sugar Estate is closed and hundreds of sugar workers are unemployed. Skeldon Sugar Estate has had its first crop operations suspended, no planting has occurred and no harvesting has taken place. Skeldon is essentially closed.
The Enmore Sugar Packaging Plant has suspended its operation. LBI cane cultivation has ended and no planting has taken place at Enmore. Enmore/LBI has closed. The ethanol plant at Albion has not been used since 2015. The Providence cane fields have been abandoned.
GuySuCo, no matter how much it denies the truth, is totally carrying out instructions from APNU+AFC to first significantly downsize and then close sugar. No amount of spin and PR to change the narrative will hide the truth. It is high time APNU+AFC/GuySuCo stop lying to the sugar workers and to the people of Guyana. President Granger this past week unwittingly conceded the truth when he announced in Regions 5 that Wales has been closed and Enmore/LBI, Rose Hall and Skeldon will likely cease operations. The Big Man has spoken – closure of the sugar industry is near. GuySuCo and APNU+AFC can scream re-engineering until they turn blue, but it does not change anything. Sugar workers and the people in West Demerara have no illusion – Wales Sugar Estate is closed. It has been almost eighteen months since the Wales decision was made by APNU+AFC and since GuySuCo has been implementing the decision. Yet there is still no concrete plans for Wales and the people there. APNU+AFC has sporadically announced things like sharing land to small farmers, rearing tilapia, dairy farming and cultivating rice seed paddy.
More recently we were told that 200ha of rice were cultivated, but I stood in those fields two weeks ago and the only evidence is that about 200 acres are now being prepared for rice. Sugar is dead in Wales, not being re-engineered.
Has any senior person from GuySuCo and for that matter anyone from APNU+AFC been to Providence recently? I know of no one who has seen any GuySuCo senior officer at Providence for the longest time, not just in recent months. No planting has taken place at Providence since end of 2015 and all fields with productive cane have been harvested. Those cane fields are no longer productively occupied by GuySuCo. I know. I walked those fields on April 2, 2017.
We can spin closure and take away people’s jobs and call it re-engineering. But at the end of the day the reality is that sugar cane fields are being abandoned for grass, weeds and bushes to take over, factories are being closed and dismantled, workers are unemployed, small community markets die, small shops, businesses, seamstresses and others in the sugar belts are feeling the squeeze. These ugly truths do not become less vulgar even if we redefine downsizing and closure as re-engineering.
Dr Leslie Ramsammy
Sugar White Paper envisages land for workers, cane farmers – Harmon.
The White Paper for the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) that the APNU+AFC government plans to debate in parliament would entail the issuing of land to workers and cane farmers.
At a post-cabinet press briefing on Thursday, Minister of State, Joseph Harmon told the media that the sugar workers and farmers would be invited to undertake agro-based activities on the land.
He said that is one of three plans that have been highlighted in the White Paper with the other two being divesting “some of [GuySuCo’s] facilities” and amalgamating some estates and factories. He said the land would become available based on government’s plan to divest some of the facilities.
According to him, based on the financial and technical evidence presented, the amalgamation would be feasible as it would be “appropriate for the better utilization of the nation’s resources.” He did not divulge other details of the White Paper.
He pointed out that “GuySuCo is an urgent priority for us” because in the budget 2017, Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan had indicated the financial reality of the request made by GuySuCo for funding for 2017 up to 2020.
Based on that, it was necessary for government to make urgent decisions. He expects that during the debate in the National Assembly they would get the clearance and the go ahead to ensure that they put systems in place for changes to take place.
Harmon also told the media about the Commission of Inquiry and a special team that has been put together to look at options for GuySuCo.
He said some of the options were presented to the government and at Cabinet level it was decided that there should be consultations with stakeholders, which included GuySuCo, the Guyana Agricultural & General Workers’ Union (GAWU), the Opposition and representatives from the estates, before a decision is made.
The consultations held at the Ministry of Agriculture, he said, were attempts at engaging all stakeholders on the important decision that has to be made on the sugar industry.
In relation to the divestment of the estates, he said President David Granger had made an important point that Guyana would still be in sugar and that the government is not closing the industry.
In response to a question, he said Leader of the Opposition People’s Progressive Party, Bharrat Jagdeo has been saying that they have a plan for GuySuCo and government has asked for them to put it on paper. He said though that they have received “only talk.”
He acknowledged that they received proposals from GAWU and that they been taken into consideration in preparation of the White Paper.
The White Paper would now be debated in the National Assembly where the Opposition “would have an opportunity again to go at it.”
Meanwhile, the media told Harmon that Jagdeo had mentioned that he does not see the sense in debating the White Paper, given that the president had already stated his position on the sugar industry and the course of action his government would take.
Harmon said that if Jagdeo has taken a pre-conceived position on the White Paper and refuses to debate it, they would still put forward their points and ask the National Assembly to make a ruling.