Home Letters Mr Granger failed to focus on human development
We need big structural changes in Guyana that create new value and we need a grassroots movement to get it done. This is what Team Granger does not understand – they are economically destructive rather than value creative. What Team Granger did to the sugar belt was a failure to do three vital things: improve operations; effectively tap the potential value of the human beings in the industry, and finally, unleash the potential of the assets.
The sugar industry in Guyana is a “country within a country” and cannot be treated as if it is some standalone company. So when the bean counters rush forward using the cash flows as a means to analyse an outcome, it highlighted clearly how they have missed the entire point. Financial feasibility is not the same as economic feasibility. Mr Bharrat Jagdeo seems to be one of the few that get it; Guysuco is not financially profitable in local currency but is economically viable from a human development perspective and a key source of foreign exchange inflows into the Central Bank. This and only this is the crux of the matter.
There is more to GuySuCo than quantitative metrics. There is a bigger economic issue as to what GuySuCo does for rural Demerara and rural Berbice. Regional areas like the East Coast of Demerara and Corentyne were devastated after Mr Granger and his team closed four (4) sugar estates in a most uncompassionate manner.
The facts will show that the West Bank of Demerara went into an economic tailspin and is now a social and economic mess, so much so that places like Wales and Patentia are depressed communities these days when they once were thriving economic hubs where people lived in dignity and had jobs. Jobs matter!
What Mr Granger failed to do was to focus on human development. Rather, he fell for the trap set by his bean counters and got mesmerised by the cash flows, clearly unaware of the fact that cash in fungible when it comes to running a nation. Mr Granger clearly is not someone who understands the big picture of human empowerment and how it is tied to national development.
What was done on the sugar belt was the following:
Team Granger failed to treat the fired employees with dignity, fairness, and respect. Today there are massive levels of human mental illness across these former estates, which culminate in the expansion of social ills, poverty, and human inefficiency. Many of these people have lost their purpose in life and are struggling to reinvent themselves.
So if Dr Ali and the PPP/C can immediately re-open two (2) of the factories it will add value immediately to the nation, unlike the wasted resources lost on the failed billion-dollar projects like the D’Urban Park Parade Ground and the two (2) GDF aircraft that remain unserviceable.
Guyana has failed to honour its commitment to the sugar workers who kept the country economically alive during the turbulent 1970s and 1980s. No one is reflecting on the sugar levy that was drained from the workers to feed the nation. That is why the comments from Mr Robert Badal is uninformed and disappointing. Mr Badal is happy to secure hundreds of millions of dollars in tax holidays for his personal business but is unprepared to offer the same sort of comparable and equitable financial benefits to thousands of ordinary sugar workers.
Until Mr Badal can put himself in the shoes of the fired sugar workers, he has placed himself in the unenviable position of being unfit to speak of their plight of the sugar industry. The manner in which this sugar industry was closed lost more value for the nation than it gained and this is reflected in the head office cost, which moved from 20 per cent of the operating cost before the closures to approximately 35 per cent today. That is not progress, Mr Badal.
In the final analysis, Dr Mohammed Irfan Ali and the PPP/C have placed their focus on human development. The focus of the PPP/C and Dr Ali, as I am reading in the “summary version” of their manifesto, is to ensure that the tangible and intangible assets of the industry can be best leveraged.
As a turnaround specialist who did this for a living as a former banker in the UK, the loss of value created by the decisions from Team Granger may never ever be recovered but re-opening at least Enmore and Rose Hall on Day One of the PPP/C taking office will roll back some of the lost value and half of a bread is certainly better than no bread at all.
Think about this. Can some of the Wales Estate sugar workers be relocated to Canje to power the Rose Hall factory?