Is Govt really sincere when it says it has a clear outlook for the…

first_imgDear Editor,Today, as President David Granger and his Government says the Administration has a clear policy regarding the sugar industry, the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers’ Union (GAWU), and more so the wider Guyanese public, cannot, and should not, ignore that it has been several months since the State-owned Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo), the single largest employer in the land, has met at the level of the Board.Following the surreptitious transfer of GuySuCo shares to NICIL at the end of 2017, the Government-holding company in a statement on February 25, advised that the Dr Clive Thomas-led Board was dissolved with effect from February 14, among other things. That announcement was followed up by a full-page coloured advertisement in all the dailies on March 15 at which time the Guyanese public was informed that a new Board, headed by Colvin Heath-London, was appointed. That advertisement indicated that the Government approved the Heath-London-headed Board on February 26, 2018. But swiftly and surprisingly following that advertisement there was the almost instantaneous denial by the Government. The Administration’s chief spokesperson, Minister of State Joseph Harmon in the March 16, Guyana Times was quoted saying “…this was a matter that was engaging the Cabinet and it still is”. Seemingly, it was an indication that someone jumped the gun.But while Minister Harmon was saying one thing, the March 11 another section of the media not only reported, but provided evidence – in the form of a Cabinet memorandum – which, among other things, purportedly bears Minister Harmon’s signature and which confirmed the appointment of the Board as per the NICIL advertisement. As the drama unfolded, the Guyanese people next heard from Agriculture Minister Noel Holder who, according to an April 27 in another media report, reportedly said NICIL “…might not have been properly advised about who is responsible for naming a board for the Guyana Sugar Corporation”. The Minister, in that same article, is quoted to say “[t]he Minister of Agriculture answers to Parliament for what happens to GuySuCo. I am accountable to this nation for its activities. Therefore, the Minister of Agriculture should have responsibility for GuySuCo; therefore the Minister of Agriculture should appoint the Board of GuySuCo”. This, ironically, is the same Minister Holder that is quoted in the February 22 as saying “GuySuCo is vested in National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL).So anyhow, with Minister Holder charged with naming the new Board, he told the public, according to the April 27 media report, that “…Cabinet hoped to appoint a new Board before the end of April [2018]”. So, the Agriculture Minister, may be trying to pull the wool over our eyes, tells us on April 27 that he and his colleagues would have settled the GuySuCo Board in three days. Let’s give the Minister the benefit of the doubt. But, as funny as it were, the comical situation didn’t end there, as Minister Holder, according to the June 4 media report, reportedly said “[b]y the end of this month [June, 2018], the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) will have a new Board in place…”. Then the comedy of errors continued when, according to the July 5 Guyana Times, Minister Holder, who apparently was attending a Cabinet meeting when the newspaper contacted him, said “…they [the Government] could make an announcement soon…”.The laughable, yet serious, situation persisted when INews reported on August 6 that Minister of State Joseph Harmon said on the matter “…the long awaited Board will be installed by the end of next week”. Finally, we see the arrival of the star of the show, President David Granger who, according to the September 3 Guyana Times, is quoted at his August 31 press conference to have said “[w]e are selecting a Board of Directors; the members of which would be more knowledgeable in sugar production… we need to have a serious Board…”. The President’s statements indeed are what is needed once the reputable and competent persons can be found but, at the same time, brings us no closer to dealing with the matter at hand. So while thumbs, from all appearances, are being twiddled, the GuySuCo has borrowed $30 billion towards financing its resuscitation and there is no Board to guide or even overlook the process. We ask is the Government really sincere when it says it has a clear outlook for the sugar industry? From our vantage point the reality paints a very different picture. This story of the appointment of the GuySuCo Board, in our sincere view, has the makings of a great Shakespearian play.Yours faithfully,Seepaul NarineGeneral SecretaryGAWUlast_img

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