Debate: To close or not to close Wales Estate – two articles

THE CLOSURE OF WALES ESTATE

Saturday, 23rd January 2016  – Written by Ralph Ramkarran

Ralph Ramkarran

Ralph Ramkarran

It is only after the magnitude of the potential disaster became apparent to the public that the Government began to scramble for a plan to protect workers of Wales Estate and farmers who supply cane. The closure of Wales Sugar Estate would impoverish the 1,700 workers and their families, cane farmers and their families and all others who are sustained by the existence of Wales Estate. The Government’s plan, announced in bits and pieces and later advertised in the media, is likely to fizzle as rapidly as it was hastily concocted. Offering some workers jobs at Uitvlugt and the vague notion of a waterway to transport farmers’ canes are not enough.  

Unless serious and constructive ideas are put together and adopted, unemployment and poverty would devastate the Wales and Canal No. 2 communities and adversely affect the economy of Region 3. This impending disaster and its horrific social consequences could and should be averted.  Read more

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TO CLOSE OR NOT TO CLOSE WALES!

JANUARY 26, 2016 | FILED UNDER EDITORIAL,

It is very difficult to determine when the leader of the Opposition, Mr. Bharrat Jagdeo, is taking an intellectually valid, reasoned stance on a number of issues or reacting in a knee-jerk, spiteful fashion, opposing for opposing sake. Very seldom has he heaped praise on the government. Everyone knows that the job of the Opposition […]

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Comments

  • Leslie Chin, P.Eng.  On January 30, 2016 at 8:01 am

    Sugar has been blamed for causing diabetes and other health problems so the demand for sugar has been decreasing. There are many low/no calories sugar substitutes (sweeteners) which are displacing sugar. One solution for decreasing sugar demand is to convert sugar production to ethanol (alcohol) production for use as a fuel for automobiles. Brazil has done this successfully and now runs almost entirely on ethanol. Many countries also blend ethanol with gasoline for automobile fuel.

    The Wales factory should be converted for ethanol production. We can learn from the Brazilians and the Americans who use corn as the feed stock. Conversion will provide continuing employment for displaced workers and use of the land, punts and canals. It is futile to keep obsolete plant in operation in an era of falling demand for sugar. The same comments apply to other money losing sugar estates.

  • Albert  On January 30, 2016 at 3:54 pm

    Conversion to ethanol is a good idea but this issue needs more information for a good case study.
    -what is the optimum production level for profitability
    -production cost.
    – markets and price.
    -profit/loss analysis etc
    -other options e.g. other agric products.

  • guyaneseonline  On February 2, 2016 at 2:50 pm

    Ministry of Agriculture – Wales Estate Programme

  • guyaneseonline  On February 3, 2016 at 11:53 pm

    Tony Veira says 9 lies told against him
    FEBRUARY 3, 2016 | BY KNEWS | FILED UNDER LETTERS by Tony Veira
    Dear Editor,

    I see another sugar expert has surfaced in the letter columns from one Rajendra Parmanand in the Stabroek News of 29th Jan 2016 captioned “sugar industry does not need handed down boardroom decisions” I can’t tell where all these experts were when the PPP were in power and destroying the sugar industry. And again I must ask who this Rajendra Parmanand is since I am unable to identify him; perhaps he would be kind enough to reveal himself as Mr.Tulsie did, since it is always best to know who I am answering.
    So now I am forced yet again to address the misinformation contained in the flawed letter written by Parmanand riddled with lies.
    1. He says that I am proposing “other crops”, I have never proposed “other crops” for GuySuCo, never! Nowhere in my letter do I say that, I am proposing diversification; lie number 1.
    2. That if we don’t get the “other crops” right this time, that it will be the end of the industry, anyone who does not understand that the industry as we know it is already destroyed by the PPP should wake up. It is finished as a commercial operation, and nothing we do can bring it back now; we have to think of alternatives to run alongside the growing of sugar cane to soften the blow to the tax payers of this country of having to pay 16 and 17 billion dollars a year as a subsidy to keep it alive. Lie number 2.
    3. In the industry we always had a saying that when the tail begins wagging the dog it is time to run. If as Parmanand says that the sugar workers today do not allow themselves to be reasonable and to see that what went on was wrong and unsustainable, there will be no end to this disaster. So him telling me that the workers are now in charge without the leadership of their unions, the politicians or the estate management and are just a mob wanting more, no matter what the consequences, then it is no wonder that we are where we are today. But I do not believe it. The PPP used the sugar workers to buy votes during 1992 to 2015 period. They made ridiculous decisions such as the Skeldon project, wasting so much money there that no money was left to keep the rest of the industry functioning properly, and today they are using the workers to vilify the coaltion government and disrupt production. Saying that they are not under political control is lie number 3.
    4. The workers of Wales like the workers of Diamond and the workers of LBI displaced under the PPP will have to understand that there comes a time when hard decisions have to be made, but that in our case we may be able of offer relief by October since we have additional plans in the pipeline which we will disclose later. To say that we have no plans in place for the relief of the Wales workers on the closure of the factory, is lie number 4, the alternatives being offered to the Wales workers is that most of them will be absorbed by Uitvlugt estate which has a labour shortage, and that notwithstanding the longer distance the workers have to travel they will be catered for and offered transportation to work there. The addition to the mix of the diversification possibility we have in mind, which was not what prompted this decision to close Wales, it is Wales losing 1.9 billion of the 16 billion dollars the industry will lose this year which prompted that decision, and if we did not close it we would have had to close both Uitvulgt and Wales shortly. One of them had to close. The board made the decision to close Wales since the PPP has left it in much poorer shape both factory and field than Uitvlugt. With the combined workforce of the two estates working at Uitvlugt there may be a chance of producing more sugar and lowering the losses of Uitvlugt.
    5. He says that my perceptions of the huge increases of the sugar workers were not legitimate that the public servants had a 300% wage increase between 1992 and 2000. I am not going to try to verify this increase to the public servants and the reasons why it was adjusted as a result of Hoyte’s Economic Recovery Programme. I do however question it. But if 24,000 people were earning 4.6 billion in 1992 and by, 2000 18,000 workers were earning 12.6B$ it means that in 1992 the average earnings per worker in the industry was 192 thousand dollars each per annum and by 2000 it increased to 700,000 average per annum the increase was 364%. But this was more or less a mistake since their wages had already been adjusted for the ERP so they got 2 adjustments when the public servants only got one. Lie number 5.
    6. It was Booker Tate who were employed by Hoyte, which made those increases in production after 1989 and not the PPP. Lie number 6
    7. Lie number 7, I do not own a sugar estate; my family does, I stopped working directly in sugar since 1992 when I began to develop my TV network; I never worked at Houston and had no material effect or say on any aspect of the management of that estate. Parmanand can extrapolate all sorts of reasons why Houston failed, since he clearly has nothing else to do, but it had nothing to do with me. Lie number 8.
    8. I have no further comment to make on Houston, I suggest that Parmanand finds who it was that was in charge of it then, and question them. Lie number 9 is therefore that I had something to do with the management of Houston in 1996. I took no part and I had no say in anything to do with the management of it. These attacks on me are a kind of compliment, since the attacks are orchestrated to discredit what I say and there is only one reason why this is happening, what I am saying is hurting someone. You people were not able to deal with me when you were in government, why do you think that you are capable of doing it now?
    Editor, I don’t know what handed down board room decisions mean. Is this man suggesting that we run an industry without a board? But in many ways he may be right, since the PPP’s board was a complete disaster made up of total misfits as were its Minister/s of agriculture at the time, when the European Union’s developmental funds were flowing from 2006 onwards. None of it went to the industry where it should have been sent to buffer the loss of the preferential price; we can only speculate what would have been the consequences if the money was given to the industry to restructure itself from 2006 to 2013/14 to offset the loss of the EU’s preferential price and not wasted on the PPP government’s corrupt shenanigans.
    Tony Vieira

  • guyaneseonline  On February 6, 2016 at 8:45 pm

    Rescue plans for Wales floated
    Posted by: Denis Chabrol – Demerara Waves – February 6, 2016

    Rescue plans for Wales Sugar Estate have been floated, even as calls have intensified for government to commission a socio-economic study of the impact of closing that West Bank Demerara operation of the state-owned Guyana Sugar Corporation (Guysuco).
    Speaking at a panel discussion Friday night on the topic “”The Closure of Wales Estate: Are there alternatives?”, former Guysuco Chairman, Vic Oudit said government should lease the Wales Sugar Factory and Estate lands for GYD$1.00 per year to an investor renewable for 25 years. As part of the proposal, he said major shareholders- cane farmers, workers and unions- could establish Wales Sugar Estate Inc by investing GYD$5 billion from in one million shares. “I think this is an opportunity for the people of Guyana to rally up and say ‘we want Wales, we want to form a public company’ and take over Wales,” he said to applause by attendees at the public forum held at Moray House, Camp and Quamina Streets, Georgetown.
    Read more: http://demerarawaves.com/2016/02/06/rescue-plans-for-wales-floated/

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