Home Letters Politicised decisions are no basis for management of any industry
With reference to the recent editorial about sugar, published on May 23, 2019, I offer a few comments:
1: We grow sugarcane, as we have for centuries. We produce raw sugar, as we have for centuries. That model is broken. However, it’s a huge leap from this position to a wholesale withdrawal from the cultivation of sugarcane. Growing sugarcane need not just be about producing (raw) sugar: that mindset is equally outdated. As the Private Sector has shown, there is ample potential in value-added products (such as rum).
2: Exactly two years ago, I suggested in these columns that we shift our focus from sugar to bagasse and listed products made in India, New York, Japan and Kenya; high-end textiles, paper, briquettes. Similar suggestions have been made by others. They continue to fall on deaf ears. Either the will or the vision is lacking.
3: The problems within the sugar industry predate the current Administration but they have consistently played a bad hand poorly. The (mis)managed decline of the industry reveals a larger truth: administrations, with their short-term focus, are ill-suited to devise and deliver the long-term, large-scale transformative changes required in any industry. Put simply, the State’s missteps on sugar, an industry that is embedded in the country’s DNA, augur ill for it to play a similar role in oil (for example, by developing a refinery), an industry about which we know nothing.
4: A weak State, such as we have in Guyana, is perhaps best confined to the role of regulator, enabler and watchman. On current evidence, the State should retreat from industry: it should not have control of any industry where thousands of jobs are at stake. Politicised decisions are no basis for the management or development of any industry.
Isabelle de Caires