GuySuCo closure….– Opposition Chief exposures premeditated plot to cripple sugarPersistent claims from the coalition that the former administration did nothing to reform the sugar industry are being rubbished by the party’s Parliamentary Chief Whip, Gail Texieira. According to Texieira, not only did the PPP bring sugar reform proposals to parliament, but the then opposition participated in and approved the measures they brought.Speaking to this publication during an interview on the show; Under theOpposition Chief Whip Gail TexieiraMicroscope, Texieira took on these claims head on. She reminded that back in 2010, the previous administration took the newly formulated Strategic Plan for GuySuCo to the National Assembly when faced with the economic fallout from the loss of preferential sugar markets.“So there was an attempt to recognise, look we have to reform and deal with these challenges… and still keep sugar as the biggest employer in the state sector. A number of those (government Ministers) who are talking (collaborated with us in Parliament). In the ninth parliament, sugar was part of that agenda. Mr. (Winston) Murray was the Chair.”“When Skeldon (sugar factory) was built,” she continued. “The ParliamentaryA longstanding executive of GuySuCo, Errol Hanoman was brought back by the coalition government in 2015sectoral committee went and visited Skeldon. Everyone praised it. They showed us the mechanization of the fields, the plans. The sectoral committee (including opposition) unanimously praised the changes, the strategic management plans that were being put in place in GuySuCo. This was 2010, 2011.”Texieira pointed out that despite the coalition government’s claims the PPP mismanaged the sector, they still persevered with the Managers the previous administration hired to run GuySuCo but then dismissed or put aside.“If that’s the case, the same people who were managing, who we said, let them go, you bring back and then say we were mismanaging?” Texieira questioned. This is a reference to GuySuCo executives including former Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Errol Hanoman.In 2010, Hanoman’s resignation from the post of CEO was accepted by GuySuCo management. At the time, officials had said the then government expressed dissatisfaction with the board’s performance in the face of moves to reform the industry. Hanoman and former Finance Director Paul Bhim were subsequently rehired to an Interim Management Committee (IMC) by the coalition government.Political moveGovernment has been downsizing the sugar industry, a move fiercely resisted by the Guyana Agriculture and General Workers Union (GAWU), the parliamentary opposition and a number of other agencies. The operations of the LBI Estate were amalgamated with those of the Enmore Estate; those at Wales were amalgated with uitvlught and there are plans to privatise Skeldon.GAWU has noted that thousands of persons stand to be affected by the closure of this East Demerara Estate, which employs some 2,200 persons in the field, factory, security, administrative and managerial sections. Government has already announced that by the time they are finished closing estates, the only ones that will remain open are the Blairmont, Uitvlugt and Albion estates.But the closure of the estates and the sacking of workers is having an effect on the economy even government has acknowledged. Blaming missed production targets from sectors including sugar, Minister of Finance Winston Jordan recently announced a revised economic growth target… downwards.Jordan said the economy was expected to grow by 2.9 per cent, failing to meet the revised growth projection of 3.1 per cent for 2017. The initial projected growth of the economy was 3.8 per cent, but this was revised by midyear to 3.1 per cent after the economy only grew by 2.2 per cent by July. Sugar output in Guyana fell by nearly a quarter from last year, with close to 140,000 metric tonnes being produced in 2017. This is the lowest output in over two decades. According to Texieira, the decisions being made are therefore not rooted in economics. “Anybody looking at the sugar figures will know that the decisions being made by this government are not a technical decision. It is not a decision based on economic or financial figures. It is a political decision.” “The politics of it is that one, they want to destroy GAWU. They (want) vengeance against sugar workers who are in the main, supporters of the PPP but not exclusively. The government’s position on sugar has been reckless,” Texieira stressed.