SALVAGING SUGAR

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In 2015 when PM Nagamootoo met with Cuban Minister of Sugar and Agriculture Ulises del Toro under the banner of Cuba helping to salvage Guyana’s Sugar Industry, we were unmoved.

By then, the PPP, under Jagdeo, had not only run but run over the country, leaving the the sugar industry in free fall and the general condition of the nation’s treasury on life support.

Nagamootoo had to know this. He’d already spent 47 years helping to fertilize this politically radioactive turf.

For the epiphany that took him to AFC in 2011, he received some polite indifference as a golden parachute exit out of a politics he could not have been too proud of.

Designated Candidate for PM there seemed little strategy to it- him lugging PPP disfavor to the position – but there was excitement to the extent that there was a government in place dismantling the country one painful day at a time and that he may have had advice on how to handle a government that functioned on the hang overs of its power drunkenness.

Transactional and understood…. political resuscitation for some assumed expertise.

Yet we were quietly curious about why he would be signatory to a MANIFESTO that checked off those ten boxes under the heading Sugar in that document in the 2015 run up to elections. 

It wasn’t just the ideas of this section but their believability and now that Nagamootoo is at the helm of talks about salvaging the Sugar Industry and in 2019 when he knows the inner workings of all that brought it to this state of defunction, we’re wondering about the seriousness of this engagement and with another foreign country…which scares the bejesus out of us because foreign countries typically come with Memorandums of Understanding and we’re yet to learn how much of Guyana is beholden to China, since the Coalition hasn’t kept its transparency promise.

Depoliticize and Professionalize the decision making process at Guysuco – reads the Manifesto under Sugar’ …in some strategically vague and over-generalized language that ensures severe political backlash just from its wording. And talk about making it efficient and cost effective just seems to fly in the face of why the Industry was in death spiral.  

A quick recap would remind us that the 39% EU sugar subsidy that kept Guyana’s production on the market was in retraction since 2005, that Komal Chand, then Union Leader, was concerned that his 20, 000 sugar workers were on the brink of employment extinction and he had even blamed the the EU of treachery and betrayal…since 2005.

But to confirm that this was no sudden stab of treachery or no betrayal of the PPP, we can take this ending of subsidy all the way back to 1972- the Non Aligned gathering in Georgetown Guyana headed by then President Burnham and the resulting Georgetown Agreement which embodied the formation of the ACP countries – African, Caribbean and Pacific – with the remit of creating collective bargaining for these, now, independent colonies, that went beyond the UK’s Lomé Convention which was established to wean the, once, dependent colonies from the economic comfort of selling 69% of its exports and buying 58% of its imports from the European Economic community which spared Guyana the price skirmishes of dealing in the competitive market.

If Cheddi and Janet were as patriotic- as PPP legend holds -and only had the socioeconomic success of the nation at heart – as its ideology alleges- then their agenda would have incorporated the impending collapse of the sugar industry with a fierce competitor in beet which needed no such subsidy.

In a half –stepping sham of attempt to feign preemption, they established the Foreign Trade and International Cooperation Ministry under Clement Roopchand in 2001….

…and with this show of effort, they were assured a longer phase out of subsidy…

…which, for the Party that spent 23 years in government and left the country poorer and the average Guyanese even poorer, meant more funds for a treasury that never relayed real gains to the nation but, instead, produced wealth beyond the known earnings of these political mis- appropriators.

A look at the country’s economic growth chart, from 1992 when the PPP ascended to office to 2015 when it was booted, records a decline in growth from 7.76 to 3.16 in those years respectively.

Of significance, as well, is how it registered on the “Factionalized Elite” barometer which gauges the propensity of a country to become a failed state on a scale of 1-10.

Guyana registered 4.9 in 2007 to 5.1 in 2015 in an unwavering trajectory arcing to failure on this metric of defamation.

By then, the PPP Government was a succession of illegitimacy. Cheddi had died and handed over government to his foreign wife in violation of the Constitution, which dictates election not a bequeathment. She then used Prime Minister Hinds as a placeholder to give Bharat takeover lessons.

In between putting on the finishing touches on this chosen leader, there was the APPOINTMENT of the Prime Minister to act as President, then re- appointment of him to substantial Prime Minister to facilitate the usurpation of the Guyana government in wanton disregard of the Constitution, flagrant disrespect of the Offices of governance and malevolent contempt for the non PPP voters of Guyana.

In 2001, the 1997 elections were finally adjudicated null and void by Justice Claudette Singh because of fraud. It was the same elections in which Chief Justice Desiree Bernard had barred Janet Jagan from taking the Presidency because of claims of fraud by PNC, issued an injunction against her doing so but badass Janet threw the court order over her shoulder and ascended to office any way. 

She should have tried that ISH in Chicago….

Then, in that very year, 2001, those elections in which Bharat declared himself winner were found to be fraudulent. Chief Justice Desiree Bernard overturned his declared victory , which showed the PPP winning by 45,000 votes in PNC stronghold Charlestown, comprised of votes coming from Ketley Primary, Dolphin Secondary, Charlestown Secondary and St. Stephen’s Annex schools.

The discovery of the fudgery resulted in an additional 2,016 votes in the PNCR column and a seat going to The United Force, TUF. The exposed Jagdeo, with all the contrition of a snake, declared “I will not be sworn in until the legal challenges are dealt with because I have respect for the law…”

Word is the big wooden cross in the Carmel RC Sanctuary, in the Charlestown area, fell off its support onto its face and split in that moment of contrived compunction.

These are all historically documented instances of PPP chicannery with Guyana’s elections and its successful and fraudulent take over of the nation’s government.

It is the ONLY PARTY that has been prosecuted for voter fraud in the history of Guyana and has actually had elections, so deemed…not by propaganda, not by political contrivance but by Guyana’s High Court.

These are the facts every Party should be feeding to its supporters…. the Coalition, particularly, not excluded.

At one minute to political midnight, talks of salvaging a sugar industry that was in retraction for decades make us querulous. Might be post trauma from the number Jagdeo ran on the nation with the secession of Booker Tate from the sugar subsidy mechanism and the building of a sugar factory in Skeldon on the eve of the halting of the 39% subsidy that cost the country thousands of jobs.

As an anticipated then confirmed failure, the sugar factory Jagdeo had commissioned on the industry’s death bed built by a Chinese Car import company ‘China National Import and Export Corporation’ did not disappoint. Maybe because it was built with car parts.

But the money laundry was undoubtedly in operation with China in on the game….charging X dollars, billing for X-1 dollars with the – minus 1 siphoned into the Jagdeo treasury.

We say this because Ashni Singh the Finance miscreant proffered said loan and it was signed off on by Auditor General Gitanjali Singh who was literally in bed with Ashni because she is his wife.

When the sugar industry’s car parts broke down Jagdeo, again, on the backs of ill informed taxpayers, brought South Africa’s Bosch Engineering to offer palliative care at the cost of 1.8 million umm 30 million…who knows…

PPP’s Ashni okayed it and wife Gitanjali signed off on it and they are now living abroad ….compliments of no REAL forensic audits…

And the Coalition’s promise to salvage the Sugar Industry gets even shakier, even if they have Dr. Harold Davis tout a come back.

Most of us who followed the country’s Sugar Industry into hospice would have read Harold Davis’ submission to Commission Of Inquiry dated October 2015. Dr. Davis cited poor ratoon maintenance (cane stalk left in the ground) poor soil maintenance, poor quality of tillage, failure to fertilize and unanticipated swings in weather, accompanied by undrainable floodings.

If sugar has been comparatively dormant for the past 4 years it stands to reason that the ratoons would be even less viable now and the canefields that are some 400 years old, not being fertilized, would have suffered an equivalent degree of set back.

Maybe, there’s an appeal to the predominant demographic that comprises cane cutters in here somewhere but we’re thinking that it would be a more profitable political calculation not to just go after votes in the short term.

For in the long term, for sugar to be profitable, Guyana would have to sell product, at least, at its cost of production for it to be a gainful investment, since it no longer has subsidy and its price would have to be competitive enough for it to resume its place in the buyer’s line up.

The last minute run-up to Elections never fails to bring a garden variety of promised lands from politicians claiming to have the formula.

But, the age of instant information brings quicker opportunity to recognize spin and political feces much earlier, prompting common sense questions like why billions were squandered on sugar –in the face of chronic squatting, say – without structure for its survival independent of subsidy.

The fact is, the revival of sugar to even a semblance of its glory days has as much chance of Bharat Jagdeo finding a conscience and confessing to his crimes against the State of Guyana…as evidenced in him being at the helm as the country was inducted into the hall of socio political infamy by achieving unenviable scores on every damaging sociopolitical metric.

The days of subsidy, preferential pricing and mandatory purchasing quotas will never be returned to Guyana. Not to mention that cane sugar is now in direct competition with European sugar beet and North American high fructose corn syrup…health benefits notwithstanding.

So, if Team Coalition still wants to arrest the attention of the swing voter…albeit jaded… still has hopes of cobbling together a cross-party majority to convince voters that a Coalition is the nation’s best hope then its campaign has to be one that is not voter-repellant.

Offering to protect uneconomic jobs in an industry you’re trying to exhume is suggestive of Party thinking being so passé that it doesn’t realize that people know there is hardly sustainable future in sugar…especially when the world market remains in decline because of product competition.

Guyana has been on a consistent decline in sugar production and the Coalition Government would be better off acknowledging the slide while messaging how the PPP failed to prepare some 30 thousand employees for the fallout of an industry that is now in repose.

Then it can it show how prepared it is for the future by devising and implementing adult education programs for displaced workers, upskilling employees with the capacity for for more and re-assigning others where their skills fit.

Instead, we’re hearing all this chatter about Dutch Disease and Oil as if its some novel technical term that has just been discovered. Natural resources are finite and the guard against that disease has not been the business of any preceding Government.

Maybe, telling voters how you’ll contain its virulence and take it into eradication by being transparent with existing and subsequent MOU’s will help…especially if it’s built into law that cannot be overturned without voter referendum.

Contemplating sugar as a declining export will create opportunity for more focus on its byproducts that impact the economy like rum, raw and table molasses and contemplate market for bagasse as dietary fibre

Showing proactivity on this front could make coalition proposals more credible…

…maybe even more soothing since Cuba, which relies heavily on Sugar Export proactively got ahead of the impending decline of the international industry by downsizing its own production since 2002 finding alternate use for plantations ..

….and more so, reassuring, since Cuba is in contract with China to supply a minimum of 400,000 metric tonnes annually.

A bad hurricane year for Cuba and Guyana, still in MOU hock to China, just looks like the likely pawn for the two countries..

….particularly since Cuba’s sweet supplier, Brazil, which gave Cuba sugar for doctors, is no longer on friendly terms with Cuba.

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