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Granger responsible for greatest destruction of rural wealth

first_imgDownsizing sugar…Long-term socioeconomic impact inadequately quantified – AnalystBy Samuel SukhnandanAs Government’s decision to downsize the local sugar industry starts to take effect, many people within the sugar belt seem to have grown despondent, and all fingers are pointing blame at President David Granger and his Cabinet for creating one of the most devastating economic problems in recent times in Guyana, particularly in rural communities.Adding his voice to the mass criticisms that Government continues to receive is former Alliance for Change (AFC) executive and Guyana-born financial analyst Sasenarine Singh, who opined that the President has supervised one of the “greatest destructions of rural wealth in the history of Guyana.”“The consequence will be national. All Guyanese will suffer. The fallout from this is now beginning to happen yet. But when it begins, we will all see a heavy dose of hopelessness in rural Demerara and Berbice. And we will also see destitution in blocks in big parts of rural Guyana,” Singh explained.The outspoken financial analyst also feels that some point will be reached where “rural destitution” will be so pervasive that people will commit all kinds of social ills.Singh said he is afraid that Guyanese — particularly those directly affected by the downsizing and ultimate closure of the industry — may turn to not only suicide, but simple larceny, organised crime, and other social issues, which will escalate.He said, “The cost of this is a total deconstruction of the rural family. And with a deconstructed family, the children will suffer too, because they will not be able to move to the next level. It is a danger point that only Team Granger seems insensitive to.”Singh also made reference to new immigration plans being touted by the Donald Trump Administration, which is seeking to have the sponsorship of siblings removed from United States laws. He said this is another outlet that could be potentially shut by the US, and this will create a greater level of hopelessness for Guyanese, as fewer people will have alternative choices.While declaring that the destruction of the sugar industry started with the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Administration when Dr. Rajendra (Raj) Singh served as the Chief Executive Officer of the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo), the former AFC executive said the President, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo and Minister Khemraj Ramjattan did not deliver on the promise they made to people at Whim, Berbice during the 2015 election campaign.Singh recalled that the coalition had promised Guyanese that they would run the industry more efficiently than the previous Government. “They did not keep that promise. They lied to the people. It’s a patent dishonesty. What should have been done from 2015 to now was not done, as they tinkered around the real solutions,” he charged.While he commended the Government for launching a Commission of Inquiry (CoI) which, according to him, was extremely necessary to understand what was happening in the industry, the financial analyst said it is unfortunate that the CoI was incomplete; because one of the most fundamental things that were missing from that CoI was a list of proposed actions and the cost to deliver on that plan of action.”“It’s not there. That CoI report just basically gave you a list of problems. But you don’t fix anything by regurgitating problems. How you fix things is identifying the problems and then you give a list of recommended actions with a cost structure attached, and then you go find the resources to invent a solution,” he further stated.Singh said if Government could have funded the $9 billion loss and use monetary policy via the Bank of Guyana to curtail or curb inflation, the matter could have been properly addressed. “It’s a misconception of the Finance Minister (Winston Jordan). It’s either he doesn’t understand the theory or he doesn’t understand how an economy works, or wants to mislead the people.”If Government can find $9 billion to fund the operation of the Ministry of the Presidency, which has a smaller workforce compared to an entire industry; and $11B to fund the Guyana Defence Force, which has a staff of 1,900; then they should find that $9 billion for an industry that supports 17,000 families, he contended.“Their (Government) priority is totally out of order, and it’s a charade,” he opined.FailedOne of the major blunders of the Government in handling the proposed downsizing of the industry was its failure to communicate with the people in the sugar belt, Singh stated. “It’s 5,800 people now let go in total, and that is not a small amount of the working population. And it will have long-term socioeconomic adverse impacts that have not been quantified by the Government,” he argued.According to the former AFC executive, it would have made more economic and social sense to ask the CoI to move to another level and list out possible solutions with a cost structure around each idea, and then back that with an action plan with hard timelines.“This is how serious people in the real world fix big problems. But all I have seen from this Granger regime is bogus actions that mask heavy doses of deception and subterfuge with a fake commitment to fixing the sugar industry,” he declared.Singh, who has written extensively about the economics of sugar in Guyana, said that while raw sugar is dead, sugar-related products like ethanol, refined sugar, packaged sugar, and agro-energy are all profitable. The profitability of those elements range between 15 and 75 percent, he stated.“But the Granger Government seems focused on the production of raw sugar. What have they done from 2015 to now to carry the sugar industry up the value chain? Nothing! They consolidated the production of raw sugar, which consolidated the death of the industry,” Singh charged.Another recommendation Singh made was to identify within the value chain those non-value- added activities and cut them out. He noted there were cases in which senior managers of GuySuCo were allegedly stealing fertilizers and fuel. “Find them, hunt them down and chop them out of the business. That is how you do it. But (Clive) Thomas was wasting valuable time all along. You have to cut those things out first, and make some examples; and once you’re able to do that, you will be able to reduce the losses of the industry. Then you have to do a detailed cash flow analysis estate by estate, and then use these hard data to increment rightsizing of the industry. Not engage on this Alice in Wonderland journey that Minister (Noel) Holder seems to be on when it comes to the sugar industry.“Once you make that decision. You also have the back plan to support how and when you will pay things like severance pay. You would put in place a concrete retraining plan for the displaced workers; you would relocate workers, if needed; you would facilitate access to financing if they want to move to another form of employment; you would break down the market barriers for their new products in targeted markets like Trinidad and the Eastern Caribbean,” he added.While outrightly criticizing Agriculture Minister Holder for his handling of this issue, Singh described the Minister as a patent failure. “He is just focusing on the losses in the raw sugar production process, and has totally failed to recognize the powerful opportunities in the value-added sector of the sugar production business. He is a yesterday’s man. What you have now on your hands is 5,800 families and their associate dependents like the shopkeepers who are now fiscally exposed.”last_img read more