CHIEF Executive Officer (CEO) of the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo), Sasenarine Singh, has said that the company was able to pay some $700 million to its trade creditors over the past nine months. Additionally, Singh told the Department of Public Information (DPI) that the sugar company also managed to pay $175 million to the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers’ Union (GAWU), honouring debts owed to credit unions in the industry. “So, people who were not touched for months finally saw money and some of them were paid off. It’s a serious issue because some of these people thought that they would have never seen a dollar in their life, but GuySuCo was able to do it,” Singh said. Due to GuySuCo’s commitment to its 7,400 workers, a strategic plan was crafted to ensure arrears owed to the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) are paid.
During a media conference last November, Singh announced that the sugar company had paid some $123 million to the NIS and was working to clear its backlog of about $475 million.
“We have already paid about four months of this year  and every month going forward we are going to pay NIS. So yes, there is a back period that was inherited that we are working on simultaneously… and we will work aggressively,” the CEO said.
He said while the workers’ welfare is a priority of the corporation, the company is unable to provide a salary increase at this time. However, efforts will be made to ensure that workers’ medical benefits at the NIS are protected. The CEO said the entity’s objectives are achievable, especially now since the new management remains committed to working with all stakeholders to change the strategy by which sugar is sold. As part of plans to reform the sugar industry, GuySuCo intends to ease the production of bulk sugar and focus on more value-added products.
“This is where changing the sales mix from bulk sugar, that were sold on the world market for between $320 to $350, to now selling package sugar at US$700,” he explained.
Meanwhile, the CEO said GuySuCo has also started a programme which will ensure issues in the factories are addressed six months ahead of schedule. He said plans are already being streamlined for the December out-of-crop season.
“Most of these specialised parts come from India, England, Mexico and Brazil. We need to make sure that they are here. We are also changing some of these parts that were not changed in a decade. Right now, we have two million rollers coming from Columbia that will be changed in the Christmas season when we are out of crop,” the CEO related.
The government’s financial investment in GuySuCo now stands at $10.5 billion since taking office on August 2 last year. Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha, said the contribution will revitalise and restructure the industry.