Skeldon Sugar Factory – A Story Of Deceit, Deception, Corruption and Nepotism

By Dr. Leslie Ramsammy

Sugar is under siege.
Since APNU+AFC assumed the control of Government, Sugar has been caught in a web of deceit, deception, corruption and nepotism spun by Granger, Nagamootoo and their colleagues in APNU+AFC.

They told the sugar workers and Guyanese during the 2015 General Election campaign that under an APNU+AFC administration the sugar industry will become energized, sugar will retain its role as the KING in our economy and the sugar workers will be given a 20% annual wage increase.

But the deceit and deception have resulted, instead, in the sugar industry contracting, with the closure of Wales Estate and the ending of cane cultivation at Providence at the end of 2016 and the closure of Rose Hall estate in 2017.

The promised 20% annual wage increase was a monster deception with sugar workers impoverished by zero wage increases for 2015 and 2016, told that 2017 promises nothing better and denied their earned Annual Production Incentive for 2016. All of this are in direct contradiction to the $75M COI recommendations.

The recent revelation of a Nagamootoo-driven deal with an investor from India, with his son-in-law as a front man, is a blatant example of nepotism that has become a hallmark of APNU+AFC. Nagamootoo met representatives of the Company from India and linked them with his son-in-law. He now claims that his son-in-law is merely acting out of the “goodness of his heart” because he wants to help his country. Nepotism is a poison to our democracy and development, but compounding the problem is the insidious stench of corruption.

After deceiving the nation that there is no plan to privatize Skeldon Sugar Factory and after informing Guyana and the world that Skeldon Sugar Factory was a heap of scrap metal, worth nothing, we are now told that a company from India finds Skeldon an attractive investment. Skeldon is now a prime divestment asset, even after Clive Thomas, speaking on behalf of APNU+AFC, pronounced in late 2016 that Skeldon was a heap of worthless scrap metal.

Now an Indian company, brought to us by Nagamootoo and his son-in-law, is positing that Skeldon has enormous potential, just as the PPP has always insisted. The Company is suggesting, moreover, that Skeldon factory has the potential to take off an additional 14,000 hectares of cane, confirming the PPP’s position and contradicting the claim made by Thomas and APNU+AFC, clearly exposing the deceit of Thomas and APNU+AFC. Their pronouncement of Skeldon factory being a heap of scrap was a deliberate deception to set the stage for giving away Skeldon dirt cheap. Why would anyone want to cheaply give away national assets? The stench of corruption is so tangible it is stinking up the environment.

The suspicion of corruption is heightened when we consider that APNU+AFC had earlier confessed they had signed an MOU with a Trinidadian car parts dealer to buy out Skeldon. What happened to this arrangement?

More pertinently, how come this “heap of scrap”, unsalvageable according to Thomas and APNU+AFC, is generating such intense interest from international investors? Why is a national asset that APNU+AFC deems unsalvageable and worthless worth so much to international investors?

Inquiring minds and people of reasoning in and outside of Guyana are suspicious that there is deceit and deception in undervaluing a national asset for the purpose of divesting it not to the highest bidders, but to those who may want to indulge in “hanky panky” deals. Hanky panky deals never benefit the country, but are highly beneficial to those who make those deals.

When an asset is deliberately under-valued and sold to others there is something sinister in such deals. The Skeldon Sugar Factory is caught in a web of deceit, deception and corruption, with a good dose of nepotism.

Nagamootoo was a chief accuser of the PPP government, charging Jagdeo, Ramotar and their Ministers with nepotism. Granger and APNU were frothing from their mouths alleging nepotism by the PPP when the PPP was in control of the government.

But never have there been a two-year period of government in the history of Guyana in which deceit, deception, corruption and nepotism have been as prevalent and pervasive as they are now.

Not only pervasive, but  deceit, deception, corruption and nepotism have become the blueprint of APNU+AFC’s governance and their enshrining of dictatorship in Guyana.