The plan was never changed

Dear Editor,
There is an old saying which goes like this, “Success has a million fathers, failure is a bastard.” That proverb comes to mind whenever I read the articles that have been written about the sugar industry recently. The latest was one penned by Mr. Vickram Ouditt, a former chairman of GUYSUCO.
Mr. Ouditt’s letter gave the impression that the real problem of the Skeldon project had to do with his removal from GUYSUCO’s board. He stated that the plan was changed after he left. In saying so he took Booker Tate off the hook and implicitly blamed the board.
This is really far from the truth. The plan was never changed. The project always envisaged a refinery co-generation plant and a distillery.
The plan was very sound. The idea was to turn the sugar industry into a complex, beginning with Skeldon, with additional revenue streams. However, as is universally known, after completion of the factory the corporation faced many problems and as a result the refinery and distillery had to be deferred.
So, the problem was never due to a change in the plan.
I agree with Mr. Ouditt that the harvesters that were bought to work in the fields of Skeldon were more suited for dry conditions. However, what was omitted was the fact that the type of harvester was recommended by Booker Tate. Part of the problem was also the poor work Booker Tate did in the preparation of the field, which contributed to trash and mud going into the factory, which was mentioned by Mr. Ouditt.
Another issue that affected the project was the punt dumper which was designed and procured by Booker Tate. In previous letters some writers dealt with the problem. In a nutshell it could not feed the factory with sufficient canes. This was a huge problem. Let me add here that the company contracted to build the dumper was a US company, Honiron Corporation who subcontracted to a local company ICI.
The corporation had other problems that were caused by poor project management all of which were touched on by previous writers.
Most of the letter writers on the subject blamed the Chinese company that built the factory. The main accusation was that the company used inferior materials. This line was not accidental, it was to shift the blame from Booker Tate to the Chinese. The fact is that most of the main component of the factory did not come from China but from other countries that serve the sugar industry the world over. Therefore, the argument of poor materials really cannot stand. The blame was definitely on Booker Tate. That is why the corporation challenged them in court.
Unfortunately, the case came up when the APNU-AFC took power and the Corporation, represented by Chairman of the AFC, Mr. Nigel Hughes, withdrew the case and paid Booker Tate!
However, by 2015 most of the problems were resolved by GUYSUCO’s workers and management. From the second crop of 2014 and in 2015 Skeldon surpassed its targets and began to lead the industry. Indeed, because of its performance the APNU-AFC coalition government took credit for the turn around in 2015, immediately after coming to power.
Therefore, the question that should be asked is why then was Skeldon closed in 2016 just when it began to realise its potential?
It is clear to me that the APNU-AFC took a political decision to punish sugar workers for their militancy in fighting for industrial and national democracy throughout the post independent period.
Mr. Vic Ouditt, unfortunately, has objectively sided with Booker Tate and the coalition in trying to obscure the reality.

Donald Ramotar
Former President
of the Cooperative
Republic of Guyana