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Gov’t to consult on reviving ailing sugar industry

ramsammy_budget2013
Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy responding to opposition questions during consideration of the estimates of Guyana’s 2013 National Budget.

In the face of repeated criticism about the state of the loss-making Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuco), government on Tuesday announced plans to hold broad-based consultations on how to revive the industry.

Addressing the Committee of Supply for consideration of the 2013 budgetary estimates, Agriculture Minister Dr. Leslie Ramsammy said the revised plan could be tabled in the House by the end of July.

“The management and the board have planned later within the next couple of months to invite various people to have a session on the plan itself,” said Ramsammy.

He was at the time being grilled by several opposition law makers to justify a GUY$1 billion subsidy to GuySuco which has been saddled with successive years of declining production.

Though GuySuco last year got GUY$4 billion more than this year, the Agriculture Minister said he was not planning to ask the House for money in a supplementary provision later in 2013.

He admitted that the 2010 plan has not yielded the expected results and so government intended to ask experts to address the Economic Services Committee as part of efforts to revise the plan.

“I would welcome from the Economic Sector Committee to have their own input with not only themselves but also their invited technical people so that we could really have the widest input in putting together a revised plan,” said Ramsammy.

In light of the repeated failure of rescue plans, he said government would examine the management as well as the Board of Directors. “In looking at GuySuco and the management, that should include the Board- every member of the Board,” he said.

GuySuco has completed 30 percent of its mechanization plan- 20 percent less than where the industry should have been today- which includes changing the layout of the fields.

The Agriculture Minister did not expect the state-owned corporation to make a profit in 2013.

GuySuco intends to train and prepare workers for 100 percent mechanization and reduce the length of both crops and maintain full operations to take advantage of dry weather.

Questions were asked by A Partnership for National Unity’s (APNU) Volda Lawrence, Carl Greenidge, Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine and Deborah Backer and the Alliance For Change’s (AFC), Veerasammy Ramaya and Khemraj Ramjattan.