– says CEO, focusing on ‘value-added’ to return industry to profitability
By Nafeeza Yahya-Sakur
THE Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) is banking on value-added to help return sugar to profitability, said acting Chief Executive Officer, Sasenarine Singh, who noted that every effort was being made to rebuild the destroyed industry brick by brick.
He made these remarks during a visit to the Blairmont Estate on Wednesday.
“GuySuCo is on a change plan. We have refashioned the way we are doing things. We have re-engineered the way we are thinking at GuySuCo. The whole vision at GuySuCo right now is to move up the value chain as fast as we can within the constraints of finances, and, in addition to that, we are opening three estates so it’s going up and it’s going broader,” he told reporters.
According to Singh, the corporation is seeing returns from packaged products and has now shifted focus to putting measures in place to help this strive in the short-term.
“GuySuCo is making money on the packaged sugar and losing on the bulk sugar, so we are moving away from the bulk sugar and focusing on the value-added products. We are building a short-term, medium-term and long-term plan; we are supplementing what Blairmont is producing. Blairmont is now focused exclusively on the export market for packaged sugar while Enmore will focus on the local market,” the acting CEO said.
The short-term plan, he explained is seeking to move up the value chain by moving towards more value-added products such as packaged sugar while the medium-term plans are to engage in private/public partnerships to enhance the value-added content.
“In the mid-term, we are hoping to engage in private/public partnership to help build the value-added element around sugar. Raw bulk sugar is a challenge and the money is in sugar-related products at the top end; so we are talking about refined sugar, ethanol and rum manufacturing, alcohol production and agro-energy etc. This is the level we want to be at and we want to make this our going concern and a viable element to the continued contribution to human development in Guyana,” he said.
Singh explained that the plan is to lift the entire industry to a different level by selling the right products and sugar at the right price.
In order to achieve this, he noted that careful assessments will be conducted, especially by analysing the cost chain.
WEEDING OUT FLUFF
“… so we are going to make procurement decisions, we are not spending too much money on fluff and puff but we are going to focus on the factory, the fields, the cane transportation route and we will ensure that the elements that will bring greater value to the estate in the short- term are resourced.”
Government has released $3B to the industry, of which $2.2B will be used for the re-opening of the three estates and the remaining $0.8B will be used to re-capitalise the current assets to help achieve outlined objectives.
Among one of the immediate issues identified at the Blairmont Estate is the inability of the packaging plant to convert all the sugar produced daily. This was highlighted by the Estate Manager, Hutton Griffith.
The estate produces between 220-230 tonnes of sugar daily but the three production lines of the packaging plant can only package 65-70 tonnes combined, Griffith explained.
In addition, the factory has the capacity to bag about 150 tonnes of sugar as well. To this end, the CEO has committed to making another line available by next year so that the factory can package all the sugar produced daily and not have to resort to sending the excess to bulk.
Further, in the mid-term plans for the estate, more machines will be added so that all the sugar can be packaged for the export market.
Among the long-term plans is the addition of a refinery at one of the estates to tap into a 200,000 tonne market for refined sugar.
“We are looking to bolt on a refinery at either Albion or Skeldon to tap into Caribbean market which imports 200,000 tonnes of white sugar from outside the Caribbean at escalated prices when we can use it by doing the Caribbean External Tariff (CET) route and be able to be competitive and still make a profit in that market space,” the acting CEO told this publication.
He also lamented the loss suffered by the corporation over the past three years and called for all responsible to be held accountable for their action.
“GuySuCo gave NICIL moving equipment, moving impediments but what we got back were several pieces of scrap iron. This is the reality that we are living in. It was the greatest loss of value across the industry in the history of GuySuCo. It happened over the past three years.
It is a national crime and those responsible for this national crime, we all must expose them and if possible incarcerate some of these criminals; it was a national crime. But we are not going to think hard on it because we are going to rebuild the sugar industry, brick by brick and prove to those people who want to destroy it that it can come back again,” Singh said passionately.