The Guyana parliament has approved an additional one billion dollars (One Guyana dollar=US$0.004 cents) to provide resources for operational expenses at the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) amidst concerns by the opposition that the state-owned company has racked up debt in excess of GUY$12 billion so far this year.
Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha told legislators on Monday that the funds will be used on rehabilitating critical areas in the factories while enhancing and expanding cultivation in the cane fields.
As a result, the Albion Sugar Estate will receive $363 million, Blairmont Estate $76 million and Rose Hall Estate $561 million and among the items listed to be procured are five 30-inch disc ploughs and five tilling harrows for the Rose Hall Estate.
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Mustapha said under the previous coalition A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) government an estimated 23,000 hectares of cane lands were abandoned due to the closure of the Wales, Rose Hall, Enmore and Skeldon estates.
“We were able to put back approximately 2,000 hectares which are already under cultivation at Rose Hall, and we will continue to move apace with the work we have undertaken. Hopefully by the second crop 2023 Rose Hall can come into operation,” Mustapha said.
He said the government was successful at employing about 1,500 sugar workers who were dismissed when the doors to the factories were forcefully shut.
“So, these monies are critical funds to rehab GuySuCo, and we are seeing now because of the flood that we have encountered in 2021, a lot of the prime estates like Albion… many cultivation areas were damaged. Now we are retooling and trying to get enough cultivation to have enough cane and increased production.”
But opposition legislator, Volda Lawrence, said the loss-making GuySuCo had already chalked up losses of GUY$12 billion as of October.
She said the company had also received this year supplementary funding in tranches of GUY$3.541 billion and GUY$3 billion.
“What are we doing with all this extra money if you have money to cover these expenses?” she asked.
Her position found support from the Shadow Agriculture Minister Khemraj Ramjattan who also queried why that corporation needed an additional one billion dollars.
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