by Zena Henry
Having averted a total shut down of the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) the government is now assessing the actual amount necessary to keep the ailing industry afloat until the end of the year.
The recently established A Partnership for National Unity+ Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) government has no national budget to work with, but the cash strapped industry is already in need of $16B to aid in the continuance of its operation. Last week, Chief Executive Officer Rajendra Singh informed the relevant workers’ unions that as at May 31 they would have no money to pay workers and requested the colossal sum to prevent a total collapse.
A decision on the availability of the cash is to be made at the level of Cabinet as a matter of emergency. However, Finance Minister Winston Jordan in providing an update on the availability of the money noted that the decision on the funds has been “deferred” to create space in assessing the actual amount needed by the sugar industry.
“That matter has been deferred,” he told Demerara Waves Wednesday June 3. He explained that, “This is to see how much money is really needed, so we have to go through the numbers.” With an interim amount of US$27M being made available to the sector in time to prevent the closure, the government is expected to work quickly to address the financial matter which could easily affect some 16,000 sugar workers at various levels.
Jordan said that he expects that before weekend a preliminary report will be ready to be reviewed with a subsequent decision to be made probably in the new week. The Minister suggested however, that if money is requested from the government, it is necessary that checks be made in relation to accountability.
Not only is the sugar industry unable to pay its employee bills, the company has also been deducting credit union dues from workers and has not made any payments over a six month period. This was according to the Guyana Agriculture Workers Union Komal Chand who has already told members to cease credit union payments to the company.
Chand said it is urgently awaiting a response from GuySuCo to make the necessary payments as the credit union can no longer provide services to its members and the jobs of the credit union staffers are now in trouble. He hinted the review of all redress avenues if the sugar industry does not hand over the more than $154M owed.