GuySuCo’s future
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THE Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) as a national entity is interwoven into the structural development of Regions Three, Four, Five and Six. Examining the industry’s present status and decision as to its future cannot ignore this framework. Sugar also has its historical development dating back to slavery and indentureship, two systems that have shaped our political behaviour. Discussions on the future of the sugar industry — even as it cannot be ignored the systems of slavery and indentureship — is likely to reap more dividends utilising less emotion which can create breathing ground and political opportunity for divisions and cleavages.
The divide-and-rule policy that characterised the culture of the plantation society and relations among diverse groups, must only serve as lessons to avoid, not repeat. Recent debates in the National Assembly on GuySuCo’s future have seen the emergence of sharp divisions between the Government and Opposition benches. It would have been better for this nation’s diversity and simmering divisive political culture had it not happened.
GuySuCo’s financial and economic performance, its structural development, and activities cannot be dealt with separately, given the interlinked relations. In the regions mentioned above, this company has developed and maintained community centres, play grounds, and healthcare infrastructures. These serve not only the workers, but also the general public within the communities and adjoining areas. Several canals along the coastland that are managed by the company are interlinked with major canals and rivers managed by central, regional and local governments.
Over the years, central Government has been giving GuySuCo significant financial assistance (tens of billions) to meet its operational costs. To arrive at national consensus on its future may require all the tiers of government taking over the support services delivered. This means the health clinics/dispensaries, community centres and playgrounds, and the canals that run through residential communities. Doing this in the first instance will free the company of these financial responsibilities, and secondly, allow it to attend only to its core operations and attendant costs.
The idea of dis-aggregating sugar into four or five companies — initially proposed by the Guyana Trades Union Congress to Minister of Agriculture Noel Holder and subsequently echoed by GuySuCo Chairman Professor Clive Thomas — may be worthy of in-depth discussions as to its feasibility. GuySuCo continues to be a national focus and solutions of national character need to be found in determining a way forward. None can honestly deny that the company, and also the Government, have made some bad decisions (e.g. the Skeldon Factory). The consequences of these continue to see scarce dollars being diverted its way at the expense of pushing other national projects. That having been said, it is in Guyana’s and every Guyanese interest having arrived at where we are today to recognise that finger-pointing and emotive arguments will not deliver solutions, which are badly needed.
To arrive at common ground requires bringing forth the better angels within us. This would mean reaching across the aisle and acknowledging the importance of every stakeholder in bringing together diverse talents, vision, and abilities to make definitive decisions. When this is done, outside of being another defining moment in our history when we can come together on common interest, it will bring about the much needed consensus to address the problems plaguing the industry, once and for all. As it was when the Forbes Burnham Government, the Cheddi Jagan Opposition, and other stakeholders worked together in the nationalisation of the industry, so too must it be today in determining what next ought to happen to the industry.
A national united force on sugar’s future is missing. Any decision made outside of consensus will present fodder for one group to advance its own divisive purpose. We must strive, as a people with common historical bonds to sugar, to see beyond the issues that divide us by acting in a manner that can unite us. There exist no doubt Guyanese who are capable of achieving this.

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