Politicised decisions are no basis for management of any industry

Dear Editor,
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 Growing sugarcane need not just be about producing (raw) sugar: that mindset is equally outdated.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.

Yours faithfully,
Isabelle de Caires