Finance Minister Winston Jordan recently disclosed that the sugar sector, which is currently under reform is, in a sense, on its knees and non-productive at the moment.

Even with the restructuring that is taking place now, Jordan said that sugar will still not be able to sell at a world market price.

The economist told the Guyana Standard that thus far, the government has been able to successfully narrow the gap between the cost of production and what it receives from the market. But to become competitive, he insists that the tonnage has to be improved. He said that this will not happen overnight.

Furthermore, Jordan admitted that the reform of the sugar industry, which saw the closure of three estates, did see some job losses but certainly not to the 11,000 estimate that is continually purported by the political opposition.

The Finance Minister said, “The Guyana Sugar Corporation [GuySuCo] had roughly about 15,000 to 17,000 direct employees. They have just about 5000 less… But you have to understand that the government has taken over significant debt and the costs to upkeep a number of social and other amenities, such as the Port Mourant Centre.”

In addition to this, the Minister categorically stated that there is no “doom and gloom” as the opposition is claiming. He stressed that the sugar industry was dying for some time now but the previous administration was simply propping it up with treasury bailouts.

Jordan said, “We stepped in and provided tremendous bailouts too. But it cannot continue. You tell me, where in the world you can find 10,000 plus workers producing 100,000 tonnes of sugar? Where would you find such a situation? Nowhere on this planet would you find that but it is happening here. So when people say we were callous in the closure of the estates and all these kinds of things, it is very difficult to take it.”

The Finance Minister reminded that the government kept its word and paid the severance to the laid-off sugar workers and with interest too. He noted that many were even retrained and given access to loans to start their own businesses.


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