Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 20th 2015 Contents A6
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Monday, July 20, 2015
Mismanagement and cor-
ruption at the highest
level contributed to the closure
of Caroni (1975) Ltd says Seuk-
eran Tambie, president of the
Cane Producers Association of
And up to this day, he said, no
one wants to come out and say the
ex-sugar workers have been
Tambie, who was appointed an
opposition senator by former prime
minister and former president of
the All Trinidad Sugar and General
Workers Trade Union Basdeo Pan-
day, disputed claims by former
People s National Movement
(PNM) finance minister Karen
Nunez-Tesheira that Caroni Ltd
was shut down because of 30 years
of consistent losses from an indus-
try that was intended to contribute
to the GDP of the country.
She was speaking in Parliament
on a Caroni Ltd motion brought
by the then opposition in December
Tambie insisted that for 30 years
the PNM government had made a
profit of $2,000 on a tonne of
"The issue here is not that the
sugar industry was making a loss;
it was mismanagement and cor-
ruption to the highest level."
said the past
apparently was determined
to shut down Caroni Ltd and
used the excuse that it was a drain
on the economy to the tune of
$200 million annually, and that the
production price of sugar in
Trinidad was uneconomical.
She countered that foreign
exchange earned by the industry
from export kept 10,000 rural sugar
workers and 15,000 cane farmers
in gainful and productive employ-
ment, and that a rural community
of over 300,000 was dependent
on the operations of the industry
for their economic survival.
Former director: Panday
seen as a failed leader
Meanwhile, former Caroni Ltd
director Dr Mahfouz Aziz dismissed
the idea of a political conspiracy
behind the shutdown of the sugar
"I don t think any one govern-
ment was responsible," Aziz, who
served as a director between 1996
and 2000 said.
"In some ways, the Panday
administration and the National
Alliance for Reconstruction (NAR)
also wanted to diversify the com-
pany. They all tried. It was not a
"However, after the closure, there
were those who wanted to grab the
have no qualms
about saying that."
Aziz said Panday, when he was
in power between 1995 and 2001,
wanted to diversify Caroni Ltd away
from sugar but did not have a
"He was seen by sugar workers
as a failed leader."
Aziz said during the NAR s time
in office, from 1986 to 1991, Ranjit
Singh, an economist, served as
chairman of the board of Caroni.
"They came up with a plan by
Winston Dookeran, a minister at
the time. It was the most compre-
hensive plan for the diversification
"They started and then govern-
ments changed (the PNM won the
1991 general election) and the proj-
ect fell apart." He said the PNM
had a tripartite plan, involving
workers, the government and the
company, to write off a $2 billion
Caroni Ltd debt.
"Since then, there has always
been some effort, even when Dr
Keith Rowley was agriculture min-
ister, to do things for Caroni."
Part II---conclusion of the
Guardian Media Ltd
investigation into the
closure of the sugar
increased under Rowley'
Aziz said under Rowley sugar pro-
duction actually increased after a
"He had a lot of management
support. A large part of the man-
agement in Caroni were of PNM per-
Aziz said lack of capital to develop
diversification projects led to the failure
of the company.
"I recalled being asked to do a live-
stock master plan for Caroni and finance
minister Brian Kuei Tung giving $50
million to develop it.
"Five months later, I got a call saying
they needed $30 million to pay workers
Aziz said Caroni was not only grow-
ing sugar and did not have only sugar
workers salaries to pay.
"The company was fat between sen-
ior and lower management. They need-
ed to trim there a whole lot."
He said Caroni also operated various
other factories and estates, outside of
"There were cocoa estates, Caroni
was one of the largest owners of water
He said the company, which also
owned ten per cent of Plipdeco and had
69,000 acres of land, was rich in
resources and could have been a very
successful one today.
As for whether pillaging had any part
to play in the company being unprof-
itable, Aziz said, "I would not say there
was no corruption at Caroni. But it was
not the cause of its closure."
Cries of hungry children
Panday said there were strong cultural
ties sugar workers had to the industry.
"They worked in it for over 170 years,
from since they were brought from India
to work as indentured immigrants on
the sugar estates.
"And it was a culture shock, certainly,
when it was taken away from them."
Panday himself came from the bowels
of the sugar cane industry in the South.
"My father was a cane farmer and my
mother helped him cut cane. I myself
Talking about the humble cane cutters
'No one govt responsible
for the fall of Caroni'
...but people were grabbing resources after it closed---former director
Cane farmers return from the fields after a day of harvesting in the 1980's.
Continues on Page A7
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