Partial privatization in sugar industry and other standards are steps to improving the economy-Jordan
The Government, Finance Minister Winston Jordan recently disclosed has been doing some work in the ailing sugar sector. He revealed too that the Berbice Chamber of Commerce has expressed clearly that it would like to see the privatization of the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GUYSUCO), but with certain conditions.
This is in keeping, Jordan said with Government’s plan, but not in its entirety, pointing out that the Skeldon Sugar Factory is a prime candidate for some form of privatization. Interests have been expressed in some areas and according to the minister; this would certainly take a load off the Government as it relates to continuous transfers, which are currently ongoing. He, however, noted that some level of transfers would have to continue to assist workers in new ventures.
However, the Opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) is not buying Government’s promises, citing a recently released International Monetary Fund (IMF) statement following a visit to Guyana, the party said it validates the positions it has articulated for months now – including that the local economy is in trouble.
The IMF noted that Guyana’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth was uneven, buoyed by the new gold mines, while the non-mining sector saw a contraction in growth. On the issue of the sugar sector, the IMF has reiterated our call for careful decisions to be made about the future of the industry.
The Opposition has said repeatedly that the decisions taken so far have been political, given the absence of any socio-economic study.
The IMF has warned the government to be “mindful of the large social impact‟ and the need to protect those affected‟ by the process of change in the industry.
Meantime, diverting from the sugar sector, Minister Jordan said rice is looking up and is in fact, doing better than it was last year. He noted too that a lot more can be done with other crops for exportation, for example, coconuts.
The Minister noted that Government is looking at the forestry sector in conjunction to driving the Housing Programme, noting that there was “very little to show for the last housing programme” in terms of value added.
Foreign investment, he pointed out would be a great help in boosting the economy.
The Minister noted that if the trends are examined it would show that foreign investors gravitate to the Natural Resources sector, mainly mining. He is contending that there must be a lot of value added in the agriculture sector in order to attract investors.
The kind of investments Guyanese are looking for requires higher standards and more plantation type activities, the Minister noted, if the country is seeking to export to places such as the United States.
Minister Jordan said manganese “for all intent and purposes” would be ready for mining come 2018.