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Guysuco has no money to pay workers; govt to take steps to avoid closure

The Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuco) is running out of money to pay wages and salaries, but two senior government ministers Monday night assured that the sugar industry would not be allowed to collapse.

Minister of Agriculture, Noel Holder said based on a document provided to him at a meeting held Monday afternoon with GuySuco’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Rajendra Singh the corporation is forecast to generate “sufficient funds to pay its wages and small routine costs” for May, 2015 but “financing is required from June onwards.”

“There is no intention of having GuySuco go under…The funding of GuySuco would have to continue probably for the rest of this year,”  he said

Finance Minister, Winston Jordan said Cabinet would first have to meet and make a decision based on information that would be provided by the Minister of Agriculture. “I am sure that Cabinet is going to make a decision that is in the best interest of the Corporation,” he said.

Holder told Demerara Waves Online News that he first has to clarify with the Chief Executive Officer of GuySuco, Dr. Rajendra Singh whether the money is needed for May or June, 2015 because of different information being circulated. Holder said Singh informed him that there is no money to pay wages and salaries for June. “I am totally confused,” he said, adding that he needed to meet with Singh on Wednesday to ascertain what the accurate account is.

However, the two sugar workers’ unions- Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) and the National Association of Agricultural Commercial and Industrial Employees (NAACIE)- claimed that Singh told them in a meeting Monday afternoon that Guysuco would be unable to pay senior and junior employees for May, 2015 and that the corporation “might have to cease operations on all estates” from May 31, 2015 “unless funding to the corporation becomes available within a few days.

“GAWU and NAACIE believe that the ceasing of operations by the corporation would further jeopardize the state of the industry and impact negatively on some 16,000 workers of the industry,” the unions said in a joint statement. “The two unions seek that the new government ensures the continuation of the industry’s operations at this crucial time.”

The President of GAWU,  Komal Chand told Demerara Waves Online News that the GuySuco  CEO informed the unions that there was no money to pay salaried workers for May and could not afford to pay wage-earners next week.

Asked whether he believed that the sugar corporation would have been on the verge of closure if the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) had been reelected on May 11, 2015, Chand said “no” because the then government had promised to a bailout package of GUY$4 billion per year.

Chand predicted massive unrest if government does not find money to pay the workers. “They will behave bad,” he said. GAWU is closely aligned to the main opposition PPP.

Chand said the corporation also badly needs cash to procure spare parts and provide maintenance to the factories at the seven grinding estates across Guyana during the out-of-crop period.

GuySuco’s  first crop recorded a 5,010 ton shortfall, having failed to produce the desired 86,201 tons of the sweetener.