– international interest pours in for Wales Development Authority
By Navendra Seoraj
OVER 3,000 persons will be hired by the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) next year to not just aid in the resuscitation of the ailing sugar industry, but to specifically drive the reopening of the three shuttered sugar estates, which are being revitalised by the government.
In 2017, the former A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) Coalition Government had announced the closure of several sugar estates across the country. The move saw four sugar estates being closed, and 7,000 sugar workers losing their jobs.
Plans are afoot to not just rehire persons, but to return this industry to viability through coordinated and prudent management, which is expected to come from both private and public stakeholders.
The sugar corporation has already hired 750 persons to conduct preliminary work at the Rose Hall, Skeldon and Enmore estates, but Minister of Agriculture Zulfikar Mustapha has said that a further 3,000 persons will be hired as the work intensifies.
“We will employ 3,000 additional workers…these workers will be employed to prepare for the reopening of these estates…there will be planting; we need plant nurseries and we need to plant large hectares of land to have proper canes for the factories,” Minister Mustapha said during a recent interview with the Guyana Chronicle.
It was reported that the Rose Hall Estate will be the first of the three estates to be reopened and is expected to begin grinding in 2022.
Minister Mustapha said work is progressing well at Rose Hall, and there is even hope that production would start late next year or early 2022.
“We are optimistic that we can have these estates up by the end of next year or early 2022 to commence operations, and close to about 5,000 workers will be rehired by then,” the minister said.
An additional 3,000 persons will be hired when the government opens the Wales Development Authority (WDA) next year. The idea of the WDA was conceptualised after it was determined that the Wales Sugar Estate, a once booming facility back in its prime, was destroyed beyond repair after being shuttered in 2017.
The Wales Development Authority will be tasked with the development of not only agriculture, but agro-industries, processing facilities, manufacturing, industrial development and this facility would see special incentives.
Minister Mustapha said it is likely that although 3,000 new jobs will be created, most of the workers will come from the pool of retrenched employees (mainly residents of Wales).
While the minister did not say exactly when the facility will be opened, he said President Irfaan Ali will make an announcement on this subject before the end of the year.
“As it is now, we are looking at funding to start developmental work…already, we have received a number of requests and proposals from international companies and agencies to set up and come and invest in that authority,” Minister Mustapha said.
Those investors have since been referred to the Guyana Office for Investment (Go-Invest), so that they could have access to the relevant agencies. It was reported recently that Guyana’s sugar industry has attracted one of the world’s wealthiest states, Dubai, which has signalled a strong interest to invest here.
They indicated their willingness to invest, so another team came back recently to look at sugar… a team from GuySuCo [The Guyana Sugar Corporation] accompanied the visiting team on a tour of all the estates… so they went and examined all the estates already,” Minister Mustapha said during an exclusive interview with the Guyana Chronicle last Wednesday.
The visiting team comprised mainly experts, who had a specific task of analysing the operations and viability of Guyana’s sugar estates.
“I had a chat with them after their visit to the estates and they seemed very interested… remember they are technical people and not policy-makers, so whatever they observe they have to take back to the policy-makers… but they were impressed with the sugar industry in Guyana, in terms of investing and so on,” the agriculture minister said.
Dubai is no stranger to sugar, as it is home to the world’s largest port-based sugar refinery, Al Khaleej Sugar Co.