By Sase Singh; MSc – Finance, ACCA
The A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Team in their 2015 manifesto promised to “convene a Commission of Inquiry…. to review, analyse and recommend the way forward for the Guyana sugar industry…..”. The Parvattan Commission did a review, analysis and then made recommendation, including one that encourages keeping all of the estates open. But their recommendations were never to be implemented because all along the People’s National Congress (PNC), which dominates this coalition of convenience, had no intention of infusing the critical investments needed to optimise the contribution of the sugar industry to the nation. Their game plan all along was nothing else but political. All they were interested in was the marginalisation of the workers in the sugar industry who are perceived to be supporters of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), the largest political party in Guyana.
To conduct their “malicious” plot, they engaged an army of geriatrics from the 1980s with their failed ideas who were all associated with the worst days of the sugar industry. True to form, these Granger appointees accelerated the destruction of the sugar belt. One only has to review the Guyana Sugar Corporation’s (GuySuCo) 2018 management accounts, their 2017 final accounts and their audited accounts from 2016 and 2015 to realise the gravity of the destruction.
Although Team Granger claimed that by closing four of the seven estates, GuySuCo will become stronger, it actually became much weaker as an organisation. GuySuCo is set to generate a staggering loss before tax of $12.8 billion in 2018, with three estates as compared to a loss before tax in 2015 of $2.7 billion when all seven estates were functional. Pick sense from nonsense, why are three estates a bigger burden on the Treasury than seven?
Revenue in 2018 fell by 63.9 per cent to $7.7 billion from 2015 on the back of the worst production ever in the history of GuySuCo at some 92,000 tonnes. In 2015, when the PPP departed office, the production was some 151 per cent better at some 231,000 tonnes. But in spite of this implosion in the sugar production, the Granger boys and girls did not take a cut in their fat cat packages, rather they all benefited from more cash.
To expose Team Granger, one has to interrogate the administrative expenses, which is mostly made up of head office expenses. In 2015, with seven grinding factories, GuySuCo had administrative expenses of GY$2.4 billion. However, after closing more than half of the estates, the administrative expenses only declined by 16 per cent to GY$2.1 billion. While the sugar workers were being thrown on their backs and off the estates with peanuts in their hands for all their years of service, this small cabal of PNC aligned executives in the head offices were multiplying their personal emoluments.
In an environment where some 6000 sugar workers were severed in the industry, the top 10 sugar executives drew down for themselves a collective sum of just under YG$200 million for each of those years since 2015. If all their additional benefits and perks are added, these people were hitting up the Corporation for over GY$300 million per year. Mind you what these top 10 PNC boys are drawing in one year could have paid all the sugar workers at Wales Sugar Estate their total severance pay in an instant.
The 2018 management accounts revealed that while the number of employees went down, the employment cost increased. This anomaly reinforced the conclusion that these PNC aligned boys and girls are taking a bigger cut of the now much smaller pie. These people do not have a conscience and operate without empathy for the hard-working men and women in the fields and factories. Today, GuySuCo is a well-beaten organisation that is ready to lie down after the sound licking it took from both the PPP and PNC Governments. I am on record of justifiable condemning the mistakes of the Raj Singh administration under the PPP and likewise the Errol Hanoman administration under the PNC. But no one foresaw how quickly the PNC/AFC would have destroyed the assets of the sugar belt.
The PNC never understood the real business issues in the State-owned entities and therefore was incapable of addressing them. These last three years reconfirmed what we all knew from the 1980s – this is the same old PNC with their short-term ideas focuses on harvesting the assets without reinvesting in them. In State-owned entities, the idea is to run them like a business and expand the pie so that there is more pie for all. This was never to be on the sugar belt once the PNC was in office and the outcome from their experiment is a major socio-economic disaster conceived by and authorised by policy dunces like Noel Holder, Clive Thomas, and Errol Hanoman.
Where do we go from here?
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