Once again the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) feels compelled to respond to another of Donald Ramotar’s letter. Ramotar’s most recent letter that focused on GuySuCo has been received with great disappointment. The disappointment is due to the fact that Ramotar seemed to have now joined the company of naysayers, who are out to paint GuySuCo and the efforts of the new Board of Directors and management in a negative light.
The truth of the matter is that, GuySuCo is challenged and that might be an understatement, the Corporation is much challenged, and in order to make any intelligent conclusion about the prospects of GuySuCo, one has to examine how the Corporation got to this stage. How it was governed and managed in the past as against how it is currently governed and managed.
This is necessary in order to sensibly determine the way forward and to ensure that some of the mistakes are not repeated. An honest examination of the shortcomings in the type of governance and management which resulted in the GuySuCo we have today is important.
GuySuCo did not become a loss-making Corporation overnight; it went through a gradual process of deterioration of systems and structures; which included poor leadership and management that resulted in a Corporation that was practically bankrupt with demoralised management and staff, unstable targets, hence, the lack of confidence from suppliers and customers and the wider public in the Corporation.
The new board and management are trying to salvage a Corporation and industry that has undergone a systematic process of decay.
The new leadership has inherited a GuySuCo where critical departments were marginalised, due to the lack of appreciation for their critical role to the viability and sustainability of the Corporation and the sugar industry as a whole.
The new board and management are a response to the urgency that presented itself, to redirect the course of the Corporation and the sugar industry for its own survival and that of its employees and other stakeholders.
Ramotar stated in his letter that ‘…They seem hell bent on closing down the sugar industry. At the moment, they are dismissing highly qualified technical personnel and replacing them with pensioners. These people are being paid huge salaries. Recently, they employed nine persons who are earning more than $200M per year’. He further noted that ‘the regime seems intent on running the sugar industry down and enriching their friends at the expense of GuySuCo and Guyana’.
The Corporation is saddened by these statements and at the same time we are incensed that Ramotar would reduce our qualified and competent employees and consultants, to mere pensioners. These pensioners of whom Ramotar speaks are highly qualified and experienced Guyanese who are making tireless contributions to reviving the Corporation and the sugar industry. Some of these persons are assigned full-time employment while others are recruited in a consulting capacity. The alternative would have been to recruit expatriates, who would have cost the industry significantly more.
Further, Ramotar stated that ‘while it is true that the industry is experiencing some difficult times, the main reason for these difficulties lies beyond our control since it was the decision of the European Union (EU) to end its agreement with the sugar-producing African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries.
While this might be a fact, Ramotar is still in the diagnostic mode, the current board and management of GuySuCo have gone past that stage, the Corporation is at a stage where, having diagnosed what are the problems facing the industry, it is now prescribing and implementing solutions.
The leadership is taking responsibility for the future of the Corporation and sugar industry and is engaging the relevant resources to find its own solutions to problems. Hence, the thrust is to develop a resilient GuySuCo that will withstand the changes in the world around, changes which might be beyond its control. It is therefore logical that there is even a greater need to find and recruit the best expertise.
Notwithstanding, the Corporation considers Ramotar a very useful player in the new emerging GuySuCo and sugar industry.
However, his value would be better maximised, if there is less emotional involvement and more objectivity and an honest reflection of and an understanding of the depth of the issues facing the industry and a rational position on possibilities for the future of the industry.
Finally, it is important to note that the total cost paid to the persons mentioned in Ramotar’s letter, is far less than the $200M per annum that was stated.
The Corporation also wishes to state that while Ramotar has the liberty to discuss his views on the packages of persons in our employ in the public domain; it is against civilised organisational practice for GuySuCo to engage in such conversations in such a casual manner.