During its Wednesday meeting with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the political opposition did not waste a minute before painting a picture of the bleak future faced by more than 17,000 workers in the sugar industry.
According to Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo the IMF was updated on the closure of several sugar estates; its impact on sugar workers, their families and the ripple effects on communities and the nation as a whole.
In a statement to the media corps, the economist noted the Opposition’s disappointment and disgust with the manner in which the current administration is managing sugar, a sector being kept alive while buried feet deep in an $80B debt.
Quite ironically, the Opposition vented to the IMF which is the same regulatory body that, on two occasions, highlighted the haphazard spending of huge sums on State-owned enterprises such as the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo).
The Fund even called for the APNU+AFC government to make big chops to its annual bailouts to the sector. The IMF recommended same since it strongly advised that such subsidies would only lead to distortions in the economy.
The IMF has also stressed that continued cash transfers to the loss-making GuySuCo would remain a drag on the nation’s fiscal performance and economic growth.
In one of its reports, the Fund noted that transfers to GuySuCo were equivalent to 1.8 percent of GDP in 2015 and 1.3 percent of GDP for 2016.
IMF urged the local authorities to adopt a restructuring plan for the sector that will improve cost efficiency, productivity, and alternative revenues streams, drawing upon the reforms proposed by the Commission of Inquiry into GuySuCo.
Even though the IMF agrees that there should be significant changes to the approach to GuySuCo, it has called on the coalition administration to ensure that its strategy for reform takes social implications into account.