Closing factories without viable replacements not a reasonable solution

first_imgDear Editor,In view of our economic challenges, it is clear that Guyana cannot finance sugar production forever. The industry was floundering with the loss of the EU preferential market price extended to us. This was compounded by the fact that we have no authority to set prices, as producers of sugar and agricultural products. This is totally unfair, but the stark reality is that developed countries that buy our products have the bargaining power to dictate what they will pay.Despite this, closing the factories, especially without viable replacements, is not a reasonable solution, because Guyana is clearly not equipped to deal with the destructive socio-economic consequences.Closing the factories will create tremendous devastating and negative impacts that will ripple across Guyana on personal, family, community and national levels.Here are a few points to take into consideration:1. Many of our dedicated and professional GuySuCo workers of various trades — from cane cutters to mechanics, factory hands that produce sugar, lab technicians and others – will be forced to move to nearby Suriname or French Guiana, and parts of the Caribbean such as Antigua, Barbados and Trinidad & Tobago. Once those good citizens move, they will not return to Guyana, and we would have lost some quality people possibly forever. Consider this in light of the fact that our population is already small.2. Having a large group of non-working menfolk could result in serious social consequences, with some resorting to indulging in alcohol, drugs and domestic violence due to frustration and depression, all of which could, in the long term, affect their families and communities. One man has already reportedly taken his own life because he felt the future for him and his family was bleak with the shutdown of the estate where he was engaged.I have a few recommendations to make, as it certainly isn’t my style to critique without suggestions.Very soon, oil monies will come into our country. We will receive our partnership percentage and royalties. Subsidiaries of ExxonMobil and other major companies are coming to Guyana. Money will be coming in, and some of those funds could be used to subsidize GuySuCo, the rice industry and our bauxite industry. This will keep workers in those industries gainfully employed, so that their standard of living and family life would be maintained, and their children’s education secured. Using oil money to help other sectors would also help to maintain industrial diversity in Guyana’s economy.While the oil money is not flowing now, we should subsidise GuySuCo from our tax dollars and our Treasury. This should be viewed as an investment, as we would secure our factories and our mass extent of top-quality arable lands which comprise a major part of Guyana. Lifestyles and families will be preserved, as we would be keeping our people employed and gainfully occupied through spinoff industries, providing direct and indirect employment.Here is a thought: Could the factories and lands be used for mass fish, dairy, cattle, sheep and goat and aquaculture production for local and international exports?How about turning an obsolete factory into a meat-packing centre and fish-processing facility? How about using the shuttered factories for the manufacturing of soaps and detergents, or the processing of coconut oil? Could we not become a major producer of coconuts, and develop a vibrant and dynamic coconut industry?On another note, I seriously believe it is wrong for only Government to be responsible for the management of oil production and exploration in this country. A good Government would include the private sector and organizations like the Chamber of Commerce in such massive undertakings. Government should also show good intent and respect — which would create wholesome communication — by including the Opposition.Yours truly,Roshan Khan (Snr)last_img

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