The cash-strapped Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuco) may be unable to pay wages and salaries very soon if the Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) does not transfer or lend GUY$3 billion to the Housing Ministry to buy land from the state-owned sugar producer.
A source close to the GGMC’s Board told Demerara Waves Online News that the decision-making body of that semi-autonomous regulatory agency was awaiting legal opinions on whether to loan the ministry the money to purchase the land. A decisio by the board could be forthcoming before weekend.
Sources told Demerara Waves Online News that if the cash is not approved, GuySuco would be in even more dire financial straits to pay some wages and salaries in the near future.
While Former President Bharrat Jagdeo did not refer to GuySuco’s likely problems with paying workers, he confirmed that the land-sale was crucial for the sugar corporation at a time when the Parliament, which has to approve a National Budget or supplementary estimates, has been dissolved.
“We know that GuySuco needs help…We then help GuySuco to get over this difficult period and the money is used to secure 1,000 acres of land that will develop 5,000 house lots in Region Four that will make sure that 1,000 Guyanese families become owners of some piece of property,” he told a news conference at the headquarters of his ruling People’s Progressive Party (PPP).
In an apparent effort to appeal to the PPP’s traditional support base in the sugar belt, Jagdeo questioned whether the opposition coalition of A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance For Change (AFC), which is opposed to the GGMC’s loan to the Housing Ministry, was saying to the sugar workers “you shouldn’t be helped and the industry should collapse.”
“If they don’t get the money, they can collapse. This government is not going to allow sugar to collapse,” he said, He further queried whether the opposition was saying that government should halt its housing programme.
Jagdeo shrugged off the opposition’s concerns that the GGMC’s Act prohibits the use of monies in such a manner for non-mining related projects. “Not that anyone will steal the monies. They are arguing about procedures and they lose sight of people- one the sugar workers and the people who need the house lots.
Government said GGMC’s proposed loan to the Housing Ministry would be at a lucrative interest rate compared to the two percent that it currently earns.