Local consumers will now have to pay more for sugar, as the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) has moved to increase the cost of each bag of sugar on the local market.
This was confirmed on Monday by acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of GuySuCo, Paul Bhim, who told Guyana Times that this new increase was implemented early in February.
“The price for local sugar has not been increased for about eight or nine years. So, we had just finished reviewing the price on the local market and we thought it was an opportune time to increase,” he said.
Asked whether this increase was also triggered as a result of the reconfiguration of GuySuCo and the sugar industry as a whole, the acting CEO tried to brush aside those assumptions.
“Well, no. We haven’t increased the price for a number of years and we thought that now is the best time to do it. I mean, it was only increased by five per cent, so it won’t make a huge difference,” he added.
The increase is for each 50-kilogram bag of sugar, which has now increased from $4900 to $5145.
Since this increase is catered for the local market, Bhim was asked by this newspaper whether he thinks local consumers will in any significant way be affected by it, the acting CEO responded in the negative.
“I mean the increase has been active for about three weeks already and we haven’t had a single complaint about it. I haven’t seen anything or anyone coming into GuySuCo,” he added.
GuySuCo has been undergoing several major changes ever since Government announced plans to downsize the industry and close several of the remaining sugar estates in Guyana.
Already, the closure of the estates and the sacking of thousands of workers have affected on the economy, and even Government has acknowledged this several times.
As Government’s plans to downsize the industry start to take effect, the Opposition has been vigorously defending the rights of workers and has even urged Government to rethink its position.
Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has outlined that in Guyana, sugar is not a company, but an industry, hence Government needs to be more thoughtful when making decisions about the industry.
He was quoted as saying, “No viable decision can be made without a feasibility study.” The PPP maintains that the decision to downsize the industry was purely based on politics.
In May 2017, Government announced plans to close the Enmore and Rose Hall Sugar Estates, sell the Skeldon Sugar Factory, reduce the annual production of sugar, and take on the responsibility of managing the drainage and irrigation services offered by GuySuCo.
Late last year, GuySuCo announced plans to retrench thousands of workers, which it did.