$100M to aid redundant sugar workers
DPI, Guyana, Thursday, January 11, 2018
Workers made redundant through the Guyana Sugar Corporation’s (GuySuCo) restructuring programme are set to benefit from access to loans and grants to foster business development.
In his address to the nation on Wednesday, President David Granger announced that the government has earmarked $100M to provide small loans [to redundant workers] for entrepreneurial activities which could open opportunities for employment after leaving the sugar industry.
This facility follows the establishment of an Alternative Livelihood Programme (ALP), aimed at providing support to the hundreds of redundant employees by enabling those displaced to access available opportunities in other fields.
The decision to restructure the sugar corporation follows decades of the local economy subsidising the cost of sugar sold on the world market.
Minister of Agriculture, Noel Holder recently said, “A Commission of Inquiry made to order by government found that Skeldon was producing at 60 cents US per pound, Albion producing at 20-25 cents, Rosehall producing at 45 cents, Blairmont producing around 22, Wales producing around 55, Uitvlugt producing around 30, all selling at 15. So, the government immediately saw it had to rationalise. You can’t just send people home. You had to rationalise and see what you can do with the sugar industry.”
On October 1, 2009, Guyana’s sugar industry entered a critical phase as the European Union (EU) effected the last of a phased price cut.
Over a three-year period, a preferential price agreement made almost 40 years ago with Guyana and a number of other Caribbean countries was dealt a 36 percent drop in sugar price due to EU reforms. The cuts meant Guyana’s earnings from sugar dropped by $7B annually with prices having been slashed from 523 Euros to 332 Euros over three years.
As part of its restructuring of the Guyana Sugar Corporation, government has decided to retain three sugar estates. The privatisation of the others is being handled by a Special Purpose Unit under the remit of the Ministry of Finance.
By: Kidackie Amsterdam and Stephon Gabriel.