Skeldon farmers will benefit from new management approach at GuySuCo -Minister Mustapha

Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha told cane farmers at Skeldon that the Guyana Sugar Corporation’s (GuySuCo) management will be revamped and be more responsive to them. 

The Minister made these statements at a meeting at the Skeldon Training Centre in East Berbice on Saturday. Senior officials in the industry also attended the meeting. 

The Minister said he held discussions with Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Sasenarine Singh and has given the Board a guideline on how it must work.

“We know over the years management has neglected GuySuCo so much. We have had so much corruption and so much wastage in GuySuSo that that too has contributed to the downfall of GuySuCo,” Minister Mustapha said.

He said he would ensure the management is responsive to the needs of the Corporation and can deliver.

“We will relook at the performance of the entire managerial staff of GuySuCo,” the Minister said. 

He also revealed he has a list of issues that are plaguing the existing factories. 

The transferral of GuySuCo’s assets to the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited under the APNU+AFC Government is one of them. The Minister stated that the assets would be returned to GuySuCo. 

Minister Mustapha also said Cabinet would discuss the Cane Farming Act, but in the interim, a system could be put in place from which everyone could benefit.

“The main issue is to get you back into cultivation and how we should do that,” he said. 

Cane farmers at Skeldon are required to produce 33 per cent of the canes. However, funding is one of the issues hampering them. 

Several farmers said they have loans from commercial banks they are unable to repay due to the effects of the closure of the estates. They called for financial help as they could not access new loans due to non-payment on existing loans.

The Agriculture Minister iterated the Government’s commitment to remove the corporate tax from loans as part of an agreement with the farmers. He told farmers that giving out cash is not practical now, but the Government will offer other support to farmers.

“I agree that you need assistance. The loan is heavy. We will give loans. We will give incentives as much as possible. We will do D&I [drainage and irrigation] work to benefit all the farmers. We will ensure that the canals and dams are okay. We will look at concessions as much as possible. My main task as Minister is to ensure that we come at a breakeven point and then talk about profitability,” he said. 

The Minister also highlighted the measures in the Emergency Budget that will benefit farmers. He reassured them they will have better responses from management this time, and they will have representation in various tiers of the management structure at GuySuCo.