PRESS STATEMENT

BY

A PARTNERSHIP FOR NATIONAL UNITY

Thursday 25th August 2011

Media Centre, Congress Place, Sophia

 

HandSUMMARY:

  • In this matter of Ed Ahmad, whom the US Government has indicted for gross fraud, it will be the US courts which will pronounce on his innocence or guilt. For us Guyanese, we should be concerned about the public behavior and acts of the President and ponder whether there is complicity or conspiracy;
  • Minister Robert Persaud is now publicly declaring that the current management of the sugar industry, which he played a significant role in appointing, is incapable of successfully managing the Guyana Sugar Corporation. 

TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT

Mr. Ed Ahmad, a close and personal friend of President Bharrat Jagdeo, was indicted on fraud charges in the USA. President Jagdeo has acknowledged Mr. Ahmad as a friend of at least 15 years and now that he has been indicted is trying to distance himself from him. It is natural for people to have friends and that goes for the President too. Thus, no one is questioning President Jagdeo’s right to have Mr. Ahmad as a friend. What troubles Guyanese is President Jagdeo’s lack of curiosity for 15 years as to the sources of the apparent wealth of Mr. Ahmad. This is no small matter, because it is this same lack of curiosity that again causes Guyana’s name to be associated with yet another notorious criminal affair.

For Guyanese, President Jagdeo’s relationship with Mr. Ahmad is most discomforting and   embarrassing since it raises many questions about his judgments. President Jagdeo’s acquiring of 29 tons of building materials from Ahmad (who he claim have been his friend for about 15 years), for his mansion at Sparendaam village, East Coast Demerara, is a matter for serious concern. President Jagdeo must tell the nation whether he paid the prescribed customs duties and taxes on the material he received from Ahmad and whether the material was purchased or if it was a gift from Ahmad.

It is the lack of curiosity in the death and disappearance of over 200 Guyanese that is troubling.  It is the lack of curiosity in the activities of convicted drug dealer Shaheed “Roger” Khan that is troubling. It is the lack of curiosity in the death of Minister Satyadeo Sawh that is troubling.  It is the lack of curiosity in the conduct of senior officers of the Guyana Police Force that is troubling. It is the lack of curiosity in the continuing shipment of cocaine to other countries that is troubling. It is the lack of curiosity in the trafficking of Guyanese women that is troubling. It is the lack of curiosity in the behavior of Kwame McCoy that is troubling. It is the lack of curiosity in the procurement practices of the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health that is troubling. It is the lack of curiosity as to why a plane lands on No. 63 Beach that is troubling. It is the lack of curiosity as to why a truck deliberately destroyed a gate at Ogle Airport that is troubling. It is the lack of curiosity in the collapse of CLICO that is troubling.

The accumulation of these events over the years amounts to a pattern of behavior that resembles deceit and deception or gross incompetence. In fact, it conveys the perception of a callous insensitivity to the most evident and miserable conditions of our people. Perhaps, President Jagdeo hopes these concerns of the Guyanese people can be dispelled by duplicity and double talk. Guyanese must wonder if it is President Jagdeo’s lack of curiosity that causes them to be insulted and humiliated by immigration officers around the world.  Guyanese must realize too that this is what Mr. Donald Ramotar, the Presidential Candidate of the PPP/C, calls continuity.

In this matter of Ed Ahmad, whom the US Government has indicted for gross fraud, it will be the US courts which will pronounce on his innocence or guilt. For us Guyanese, we should be concerned about the public behavior and acts of the President and ponder whether there is complicity or conspiracy.

Unfortunately, for the PPP/C, Guyanese are awakening to its pattern of deception and incompetence and will not be fooled again.

With A.P.N.U as the alternative, Guyanese will no longer have to endure the shame and embarrassment of the PPP/C that currently haunts us all. A.P.N.U offers Guyanese a chance to make positive changes to their lives and to build a prosperous future for themselves and family.

WHO IS MINISTER PERSAUD TRYING TO FOOL?

A Partnership for National Unity (A.P.N.U) does not find the recent declaration, by the Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Robert Persaud, credible or acceptable. Since 2006, Mr. Persaud was appointed as the Minister responsible for the sugar industry. Therefore, it is unacceptable that, after giving the public every conceivable excuse – including factually questionable, misleading, and unachievable targets and predictions – he is now publicly declaring that the current management of the sugar industry, which he played a significant role in appointing, is incapable of successfully managing the Guyana Sugar Corporation. For the PPP to be forced to make this disclosure, of not being able to manage the sugar industry this close to an election, shows how far up the creek Skeldon really is.

Accordingly, the Government is now proposing to employ either Chinese or Indian Managers to salvage what is left of the state owned Sugar Industry. The public will recall that it was the Chinese which was granted the contract to build the US$200 million Skeldon which has precipitated the demise of the Guyana Sugar Industry. The Skeldon factory, which has been labelled by knowledgeable persons as a “white elephant”, continues to be the biggest and most expensive problem in the local sugar industry.

In the just concluded first crop two thirds of the shortfall in production occurred at Skeldon and one third occurred at LBI and Enmore.

The expressed rationale for the new packaging plant at Enmore was that it would help to stabilize the rapid decline of the sugar price received by GuySuCo. However, since the industry continues to be subsidized by our taxes, the citizens of this nation are forced to question the success of the ‘so called’ improvements to our sugar production, such as packaging plants or expansions of the industry’s production, under the PPP/C Administration.

Our researches disclose that the country with the biggest and most efficient production of sugar from sugar cane, on the planet, is Brazil. However, the PPP/C Administration seem reluctant to do the sensible thing and seek help from Brazil, our neighbor who has at all times been willing and eager to help. Instead, the President Jagdeo PPP/C Administration has opted to deal with Chinese or Indian companies which have no demonstrated track record that matches the expertise of the Brazilians.

It should be noted that the major sugar producing areas in Brazil are close to us geologically and have similar climatic and other problems to those we face in Guyana, especially as regards to mechanization under high rainfall regimes, it is almost too obvious to state that it is from the Brazilians where we should look for help.

Under these circumstances, A.P.N.U calls for the immediate mounting of a Commission of Inquiry into the functioning of GuySuCo.

The GuySuCo Board of Directors includes: Dr. Nanda Gopaul, who is also the Deputy Cabinet Secretary and Permanent Secretary (PS) at the Office of the President; Mr. Donald Ramotar, PPP/C Presidential Candidate and General Secretary of the Party; Ms. Geeta Singh-Knight who presided over the failure of insurance giant, Colonial Life Insurance Company (CLICO) Guyana Limited; and, now, Mr. Komal Chand, the Head of GAWU and a PPP/C Member of Parliament. None of these Directors has any experience or understanding of the Guyana Sugar Industry.

This political control of the board and the industry has in no small way contributed to the demise of the corporation and now they are about to compound one mistake with another by bringing in a management team which is not familiar with our conditions.

The CEO of GuySuCo, Mr. Paul Bhim, while speaking at the launch of Project Gold at Enmore (incidentally, there was previously a project Gold packaging plant at Blairmount. Whatever happened to that?) stated that Skeldon will be operating at improved capacity by the second crop. Our information tells us that it is performing as dismally as usual.

The production of Skeldon continues to be a cause for great concern. At this time, in 2011, according to GuySuCo’s own projections, Skeldon should have been producing 100,000 tons of sugar (40,000 tons in the first crop and 60,000 tons in the second crop). In the first crop of this year, Skeldon turned in a production of a little over 10,000 tons. That is 75% less than what the PPP management told us it would do when they started spending the US$200Mn on the factory and field expansion there. This is as a result of the continuous late reaping, due to a complete breakdown of the process of getting the cane from the fields to the factory, compounded by the numerous and costly factory problems being experienced. The level of production is completely unacceptable and the number of tons of cane to make a ton of sugar is horrendous.

In 1999, when the Skeldon project was still on paper, stalwarts of the sugar industry urged the PPP to use caution in expanding our industry, since the European Union was removing the preferential price and Guyana had several logistical problems to expansion, not least of which was a declining workforce, and the inability to mechanize due to our cambered bed lay out. However, whilst Trinidad, Jamaica and Barbados were downsizing their industries, in view of this loss of the preferential price, the PPP/C Administration was inexplicably expanding ours, despite urges of caution by the opposition.

We also hold the view that the Guyana cane farmers, who are supplying some 8-10% of the sugar cane to our factories, should be given their share of the EU developmental funds paid to the Government to offset the loss of the preferential price. We think that the Government owes the Guyana cane farmers, who have served the local industry well, their share of this fund.

A PARTNERSHIP FOR NATIONAL UNITY (A.P.N.U)

Georgetown

Guyana

Thursday 25th August 2011

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