Squatting hurting GuySuCo’s regional reputation, financial prospects – CEO
By Kurt Campbell
With squatters in the East Demerara sugar belt resisting efforts to relocate, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) Sasenarine Singh says that while the Corporation will follow Government’s policy on the issue, GuySuCo’s regional reputation and future financial prospects are being hammered.
Looking to make a comeback in sugar production, GuySuCo on Wednesday issued a notice asking squatters to remove from the area aback Success and Chateau Margot, East Coast Demerara as it looks to revive its operations.
Singh told the News Room on Thursday that the resistance of the squatters could result in future losses for the company with the areas being occupied illegally once serving as prime lands used as a nursery for research purposes.
“So we have lost that…When we did the numbers yesterday GuySuCo will lose over $2 billion in future cash flows…we can’t take that research to production because they have cut down everything,” the CEO added.
Singh says luckily the Sugar Corporation has other estates where the same nursery cultivation is being done but it still means a restart of work already done in the East Coast Demerara area.
“It is unfortunate that the place where the activity occurred is on a cultivation that has our primary nursery. So far individuals have destroyed over 17,000 varieties of research. From that research, you usually get commercially viable options and it took over 18 years of scientists across industry research to find a commercially viable future,” he added.
Singh said GuySuCo is doing agricultural research as part of the Caribbean fraternity and this fiasco is hurting Guyana’s reputation in that regard.
“The question asked across the region is can GuySuCo protect the research that the entire Caribbean is involved in? With this, it shows we are struggling.”
Asked whether GuySuCo can afford to give up the lands for housing purposes, the CEO said it is possible but it has to be lands that aren’t as viable as this one.
“This land is what you call front line land, that’s where nursery production is happening, that’s where your best future offspring of the production process is being cultivated…but GuySuCo is part of the Government of Guyana and we will follow policies taken by the Government,” he added.
The CEO clarified that the lands are all owned and controlled by the State.
“NICIL had taken control of the land when the East Demerara Sugar Estate was closed but a policy decision was made by the Government to reopen the estate…the land that was in sugar cultivation must now be made available for exactly that, sugar cultivation.”
Singh maintains that the area is highly productive for nursery research and it will hurt GuySuCo in an adverse way if it is not returned.