Downsizing 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.”
[asset|aid=2972|format=mp3player|formatter=asset_bonus|title=5a2ecd7018c0e69a147760e594b757ea-Hunter Clip 1_1_Pub.mp3] Hunter says the city and the RCMP provide bike safety programs at schools through the bike rodeo which teaches children about rules of the road and safety.Another possibility to help limit these types of accidents would be to have awareness campaigns for drivers, she says. A collision between a vehicle and a young cyclist is raising concerns about parking on residential streets in Fort St. John.On Wednesday, the child was riding his bike on a sidewalk when a vehicle turned in front of him.Police say charges won’t be laid because the driver’s view was obstructed due to the cars parked on the road.- Advertisement -Dianne Hunter says although parking is allowed on residential streets, people can only park their vehicles up to a maximum of 24 hours in the same spot.Hunter says there are certain streets where parking is restricted to one side of the road, however, this is generally due to the width of the road, and added that she doesn’t believe residents would like not being able to park on the street.To avoid collisions, she says drivers should be cautious on residential streets, drive slowly, and watch for children on the roads. She also encourages parents to speak with their children about bike safety.Advertisement
“She’s a she,” he explains, “because she wears a dress.” As for its age, the rabbi said you shouldn’t ask a lady. But she’s about 160 and appears to have originated in Poland. The scroll later was bought by a couple who dedicated it to their only son, William Earnest Jacoby, who died in World War II. The torah was in need of cleaning and repair – to patch holes and fix lettering – so Chefitz came up with the time-share project. About 40 of the 52 available weekly torah time-shares have been purchased at Temple Israel, a Reform synagogue. Other members have given $18 to sponsor a single letter of the scroll, and all five books have been sponsored for $18,000. All told, the project raised about $325,000 for the temple, far more than the restoration cost. Still, Chefitz quips, he should have thought about charging annual maintenance fees, just like real time shares. Chefitz has been at Temple Israel for six years. Before that, he served as the rabbi of the Havurah of South Florida, which serves Jews disconnected from formal synagogue life. Because they had no actual temple, members took turns taking the torah home with them, an experience that led to his idea at Temple Israel. Temple Israel’s program is thought to be the first of its kind. Chefitz said it has since inspired a Tel Aviv temple to start its own. Last year, Chaim LieberPerson picked the torah up from the temple, put it in the passenger seat of his car and fastened the safety belt. He said he was giddy about taking it home. As a Jewish educator, he is used to handling torahs, but this was different. “Every time that a torah is opened, I’m like a young child again,” he said. “Having it in your home is kind of like having somebody from TV or the movies or someone famous in your home.” LieberPerson and his wife hosted a “Torah Tea Party” for their two children and several dozen others. They decorated torah-shaped cookies, made T-shirts with their Hebrew names on them and paraded around the mango tree in the backyard, singing, playing instruments, and hoisting the scroll. The family also hosted a more traditional adult study gathering, which Chefitz led. At night, the LieberPersons put the torah in a closet to protect it from two cats and two children. Like real estate time shares, participants in the torah project can swap weeks. And some, like Randi Trazenfeld, have bought “futures” to ensure their children will have the torah in their home before their bar or bat mitzvah. Trazenfeld remembers that as a child she’d stand on her chair in temple to just to get a glimpse of the torah on the High Holidays. It was in the distance. She wants her children to have a more intimate experience. “I can’t tell you how emotional it was,” Trazenfeld said, “and we’re not a religious family at all.” 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Most Jews see the holy scroll only in their synagogue and have rarely held one. But one synagogue in Miami is taking the unprecedented step of allowing congregants to host Judaism’s sacred text in their homes in exchange for a donation. They call it a torah time share. For a one-time gift of $1,800, members of Temple Israel can sponsor a section of the scroll. Each year, during the week before that section is read at Shabbat services, donors can keep the torah in their home – an event that has prompted families to host scripture studies, parades and dinner parties. “When it’s brought into a house, it makes the house more holy,” said Rabbi Mitch Chefitz, who came up with the idea. “If the torah’s in your room, then you have an honored guest.” Chefitz showed up at Sandy Grossman’s house this Rosh Hashanah week with the torah in a wheeled black duffel bag. After dinner, while children were dancing the Macarena and pounding on a bongo drum, he put it on the dining room table, and everyone’s attention shifted. Chefitz took off the torah’s white fabric covering, or dress, as he called it. He sat at the head of the table and began to slowly unroll it. By Matt Sedensky THE ASSOCIATED PRESS PINECREST, Fla. – Dinner was over by the time the party’s honored guest showed up at the table. She didn’t speak a word. And she left in the rabbi’s arms. The visitor to this family home was no lady. It was a torah.