Eric Phillips is not too au fait with the sugar industry

Dear Editor,
We refer to Eric Phillips’ letter captioned “GAWU is not interested in a win-win situation” appearing in the May 31, 2017 edition of one of the daily newspapers.
While Phillips apparently chastises our Union for lacking “economic understanding”, it also seems, in our view, that he is not too au fait with the industry, its challenges and solutions to make it into a viable entity.
On the debt, we urge that the disaggregated figures be looked into as we think it would be revealing to the author.
With respect to the investment required by the industry, the Sugar Commission of Inquiry (CoI) pointed to a figure less than one-third of what is quoted, obviously something is amiss.
It seems the letter writer may not have been following the many articles and letters in the press in recent times which have proposed alternatives for sugar without the heavy consequences of the plans being currently promoted by officialdom. In this vein, we strongly believe that our proposal presented to the Government and shared with the public offers a way out and a bright future for sugar and the people connected to its operations.
At this time, neither the Administration nor the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) have said our proposals are misguided, misplaced or unfeasible. Diversification within sugar, we hold, strongly is the answer to the big question on the industry and we went as far as offering our ideas on its financing.
The non-sugar diversification being proposed is very questionable and the sad experiences of the past offer very little comfort.
Moreover at Wales, the supposed launching pad for this new direction, we hasten to point out very little is being done but suffering is growing by the day.
Phillips also says that “the Government and people of Guyana cannot afford to subsidise GuySuCo as it is currently operating” but at the same time can we afford plans which would promote greater hardships, impoverishment and depravity in our country.
Such situation we see as lose-lose. We ask do we really, as a people, in the interest of what Phillips calls “equitable sustainable development” spread those hardships (like those faced in Wales) to other parts of the country? For GAWU, we cannot lend a supporting voice to such a plan.

Yours faithfully,
Seepaul Narine
GAWU General