GuySuCo working towards not needing Govt bailouts — CEO
…says 2021 a critical year in turning around industry
By Jarryl Bryan
Budget 2021 is just one day away, and with a history of being kept afloat by Government bailouts, Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) Chief Executive Officer Sase Singh hopes to one day turn this around.
In an interview with this publication, Singh acknowledged that GuySuCo has to move away from its reliance on the state to making enough money that it is able to self-generate its own revenue and pay for itself.
“The way we can navigate out of this pain is to bring more cash onto the table. And the only way we can do that – we cannot continue this model of running to the treasury and saying we want more, we want more – we have to self-generate more revenue,” the CEO said.
“And that’s why we have to be very careful how we expand operations. Operations have to be done carefully. And once it’s done carefully, we create the market at the value-added level to push off that production, rather than produce and stop. The sugar model of the future is producing and sell it at the highest level.”
Laying out the corporation’s agenda for 2021, Singh explained that GuySuCo has to continue its efforts to fix up the factories, conduct land preparation, and revamp the cane transport system. He therefore appealed for patience from the Guyanese public.
“You, the Guyanese people, have made $3 billion available to us…,” he said, as he explained that that money would be carefully utilised in order to ensure that the most crucial components of the estate – the parts that bring the greatest value to GuySuCo – are renewed.
“At Uitvlugt, for example, we have several pieces of equipment that have not been touched or renewed for years: the high-grade baskets, the mill rollers. It was totally engineering magic that a factory like Uitvlugt still stands, because of the lack of investments,” Singh said.
“Then you have the factories. They’ve always been struggling, and are not mechanically reliable. We have many cases of what you call toothless rollers. Parts of the rollers are broken and can’t squeeze the juice effectively, so juice is being lost. It takes extra energy to burn that bagasse when it’s produced; so, the problem is we have to fix all those things, and that’s started to happen… 2021 is a key year. And we’re turning this whole business to being more resilient,” Singh explained.
Added to this is the work that has to go into GuySuCo’s land preparation and into the timely transport of sugar cane from the fields to the factories. Singh explained why the timely transport of cane is so important.
“It is best for raw cane sugar to be processed in the factories within 48 hours. In the industry, we call that the Burn to Grind Indicator, BGI. If you leave those canes out longer than that, you start to lose value rapidly. So, the sugar declines. So, we have to fix the cane transport route across all the estates,” he said.
“The land has to be prepared and plowed, and it has to be planted on time. Once it is planted, the right amount of fertiliser has to be applied at the right time. We cannot apply it when we feel like, or when its available. That has been happening too much across the industry. If we cannot have it available, then why are (we) planting?”
The former Government had closed the Wales Estate in 2016, and subsequently shut down the Enmore, Rose Hall and Skeldon estates. The downsizing of the sugar industry had resulted in only the Uitvlugt, Blairmont and Albion estates currently operating.
After taking office last year, the PPP/C Government announced, in the 2020 Emergency Budget presented in September 2020, that some $5 billion would be injected into the sugar industry for the phased reopening of the closed estates.
An initial $3 billion was earmarked for critical works for the remainder of 2020, while an assessment was simultaneously carried out on the state of the assets and the level of reinvestments needed at the Enmore, Rose Hall and Skeldon estates for their reopening.