More money for GuySuCo but dependence on gov’t to be reduced by 2026

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The government is expected to make more funds available for the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) in its 2022 budget but there will be a significant reduction in dependency on government support by 2026, Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha has said.

The Minister spoke at the Parliamentary Economic Services Committee where he was grilled extensively on the agriculture sector earlier this week.

Since returning to office in August 2020, the government provided operational and restructuring support to GuySuCo in the sum of $11 billion and also injected $600 million to assist with wages and salaries.

These interventions came following the closure of four sugar estates (Wales, Skeldon, Rose Hall, and Enmore) and the retrenchment of over 7,000 sugar workers by the previous APNU+AFC government.

Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha

The PPP/C government argued that the closures created a downward spiral in the local economy and in recognising the hardships it is intent on reopening these closed estates and advance them to a state of profitability in due course.

In this regard, a new board and management were installed and a strategic business plan for the period 2021-2025 was put into operation.

In detailing the developments since August 2020, Minister Mustapha noted the reopening of the Rose Hall Estate and the rehiring of sugar-estate employees who lost their jobs.

“1,000 sugar workers were re-employed, and an additional 200 persons will be re-employed in the 2nd half of 2022,” he detailed.

Additionally, sugar works across Region 3, 4, 5, 6 received Weekly Production Incentives and other incentives for the 1st crop of 2021.

The government intends to restore the operating capacity and efficiency on the three grinding estates by 2023 while concurrently re-opening Rose Hall by the 2nd Crop of 2023.

Mustapha said there will also be reduced sales of the bulk market by 10% between 2021 and 2026 while also optimizing sales mix in packaging.

There will also be the restoration of the socio-economic balance in the sugar belt and greater engagement to ensure private partnerships to re-developing Skeldon Estate, agro-energy, ethanol, refinery, aquaculture and more.

Currently, the Corporation has four packaging lines at Enmore Packaging Plant, aimed at producing hygienically packaged sugar for both the local and export markets mainly targeting the confectionery market.

“This government has always recognised the need for careful diversification of the sector and has been strategic in its efforts in this regard. For instance, the Corporation is slated to conduct a feasibility study on the production of Ethanol at Uitvlugt Estate in 2022. This project stands to not only support the programme of diversification, but also to contribute in project areas consistent with Guyana’s Low Carbon Strategy. Additionally, the generation of electricity from the estates is being explored,” Mustapha said in a written response.

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