APNU+AFC’s Shadow Finance Minister questions GUYSUCO’s budget process; Agri Minister says more defective equipment being found

Last Updated on Monday, 5 December 2022, 19:47 by Denis Chabrol

In the wake of a request for parliamentary approval of an additional GY$1 billion for the state-owned Guyana Sugar Corporation (GUYSUCO), opposition Shadow Finance Minister Volda Lawrence on Monday cast doubt on that loss-making entity’s budget process as it has already chalked up GY$12 billion in operational expenditure up to October 2022.

“Are you saying that in your planning for 2022 that what you are asking us for this money for to do all these things that were in the field etc; that it wasn’t in your plan? So if it wasn’t in your plan, what type of budgeting (are you) doing,?,” she said in the House during consideration of supplementary estimates.

Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha, in response, told the House that as workers go further into the field and factory operations they are discovering that more work needs to be done and that requires additional equipment and other supplies. “These estate equipment, as you go in, you find that different things have deteriorated over time,” he said. noting that Rose Hall estate had been locked up and deteriorating badly. He said further examination of factory equipment was resulting in “unplanned” budgeting due to the need for repairs and rehabilitation.

He said the monies were needed to rehabilitate a number of “critical pieces” of equipment such as the gantry and punt dumper as well as till the land at estates like Rose Hall which are now being revived after closure by the then A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change government.

He invited Ms Lawrence to visit GUYSUCO’s operations to get a first-hand look at some of the work that needs to be done. “Probably, Mr Chair, through your office I can invite the member of the opposition to take a tour of the estates

Shadow Agriculture Minister Khemraj Ramjattan also queried why that corporation needed an additional GY$1 billion after which Ms Lawrence noted that already for 2022 GUYSUCO has received supplementary funding in tranches of GY$3.541 billion and GY$3 billion. “What are we d0ing with all this extra money if you have money to cover these expenses?,” she asked.

Mr Mustapha said monies were being spent also on cultivation of some of the 23,000 acres that had been “abandoned” under the last government. So far, he said 2,000 acres at Rose Hall have been put back into cultivation and 1,500 workers have been re-employed.

The Agriculture Minister said in the area of “retooling”, GY$363 million have abbe allocated to Albion Estate, GY$76 million to Blairmont and  GY$561 million to Rose Hall. Disc ploughs and tilling harrows, he said, are among the equipment to be purchased.