One month after confusion surfaced over the Board of Directors at the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo), to date, the Government has not managed to come to a definitive decision to name a substantive Board, neither have there been clear about whether one would be appointed soon.
Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of GuySuCo, Paul Bhim has however said that GuySuCo is still operating without a Board. The GuySuCo official said while he was recently told by the Government that a Board will be named shortly, he was not given any specific time when this could happen.
“There is no Board at the moment. They have indicated that a Board will be named. They didn’t give me a timeline, but they did indicate that a Board would be appointed shortly,” he told Guyana Times on Tuesday when quizzed about the functioning of a Board.
But questioned as to whether, with the clear absence of a Board, this could affect the operation of GuySuCo and by extension the sugar industry, Bhim affirmed it is not affecting the current operation. “Not really. I report to the Minister of Agriculture (Noel Holder) directly, at this time. We have well established systems in place in terms of our operations here too. So, no, it is not affecting that,” he explained.
However, the acting CEO did admit that with a functioning Board, it will help to advance the operations and bring some level of effectiveness to the industry.
Questioned further on whether the operations of GuySuCo has been affected in any way by the sudden downsizing, Bhim said production based on the three estates that it now has responsibility for (Blairmont, Albion and Uitvlugt) is doing fairly well, especially for the first crop in 2018.
“Let’s remember that estates closed falls under SPU (Special Purpose Unit). We don’t have any operational oversight but come into contact with the SPU often…because we are helping to tidy up things. Aside from that we are carrying on as per normal on the three estates,” he added. In late April, Minister Holder has revealed that Cabinet was looking at some new names for the new Board. It was reported early March that Finance Minister Winston Jordan had allegedly proposed for Head of SPU, Colvin Heath-London, to be the Chairman of the new GuySuCo Board after the previous body had expired on February 14. The purported proposal was reportedly not accepted by all Cabinet members.
However, Minister Jordan had subsequently issued a statement denying making such a suggestion, saying that he was in Jamaica for a pre-Governors meeting of the Inter-American Development Board (IDB) and thus was not present for the Cabinet meeting.
Meanwhile, about two weeks later, NICIL published the names of the new Board, naming Heath-London as Chairman while the other members included Fritz McLean, Komal Singh, Verna Adrian, Vishnu Panday, Annette Arjoon, Arianne Mc Lean, Roshan Khan Jr and George Jervis, with two other names to be added to the 11-member body. A full-page ad had detailed that the new Board was approved by Cabinet on February 26, 2018. Minister of State Joseph Harmon had said the same day that there were some issues with regard to the timing of the ad and Cabinet was reviewing the matter.
But despite these statements, Government had made it clear that the Board of Directors of GuySuCo, headed by Professor Clive Thomas, is the legitimate one. The life of that Board expired a month ago. The new Board, which was named with Heath-London as the head was gazetted at the Deeds and Commercial Registry. According to filings on March 1, 2018, there were several documents including a copy of the Cabinet decision of the new Board, notice of change of Directors and consent forms to be Directors. There were also supporting documents that listed the members of the new Board as the same. (Samuel Sukhnandan)