Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Dr Van West-Charles takes issue with Granger's plans to sell GuySuCo, GuyOil & NCN..

Dr Richard Van West Charles having a
with President Jagdeo at
the funeral of his late colleague Winston Murray

Chairman of the People’s National Congress Reform’s Meadow Brook/Durban Backlands group, Dr Richard Van West-Charles, said that “privatisation” may not be the answer to solving the problems facing the country’s sugar industry, state media and wider society. He made the comment during an interview with Guyana Times yesterday.

Dr Van West-Charles said that he was cognisant of the position taken by PNCR’s presidential candidate David Granger with respect to how the problems faced by the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo), the state media and the Guyana Oil Company could be remedied, once the PNCR gets into power. He argued that, before any decision is taken to privatise these entities, an impact assessment would have to be done, which would seek to outline the likely consequences and benefits of such a move.
He stated that there is need for a multi-stakeholder and comprehensive approach to dealing with the problems GuySuCo is facing. He said that one would also need to address in the process the need for more to be garnered from the industry in return for continued investment.

“We would have to look at the sugar cane industry in general and its potential to grow and expand beyond sugar. We would need to look at producing bagasse, ethanol, different types of sugar cane, and other ideas that would see sugar financing itself and the economy”, Van West-Charles pointed out. He said that any move to privatise the sugar industry must not see thousands of the country’s workers displaced or placed on the bread line.
He argued that one would also need to ask how the Guyanese standard of living would benefit, improve or be affected by such a decision.

Van West-Charles was also adamant that privatising the state media would have its share of consequences, even though he did not advocate any of the benefits throughout the interview. He was insistent that media in the 21st century would have to play the most important role in informing the public and Guyanese about the work of their government, respective representatives and other organisations.
He said there is need for such media to remain balanced, accurate, free from political interference, and easily accessible if it was to be considered as truly owned and controlled by the state.
“Everyone should have access to this type of media, and I cannot necessarily see how privatising such would lead to benefits for Guyanese”, Dr Van West-Charles declared.
Dr Van West-Charles advocated that any move to privatise any state-owned or state-run company in the country must be done with the aim of rooting out corruption, maximising economic benefits, and fostering social advancement; and the move must be carefully studied and assessed.

Several other organisations have expressed similar sentiments about David Granger’s privatisation plans, while pinpointing that those intentions need more thought before any final decision is reached.
At a recent business luncheon, Granger had said there would be less state intervention in the private sector under his presidency. He said his approach would be to create an atmosphere conducive to development. “I want to create a well- regulated environment; a safe environment, in which they could operate and do the things they know best,” Granger said in response to a question posed by a participant, who said that some businessmen often needed a pat on the back. The politician insisted that his offer is the best pat on the back they could ask for.

“I would like to get out of state-owned media, state-owned petroleum distribution, state-owned sugar –- I don’t think this is the concern of the state… I don’t think there is any place for state ownership of those things anymore, certainly not under David Granger,” he added. The unions backing sugar workers have since condemned Granger for his intentions, saying the move will put thousands of workers on the breadline.

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