The Americas

Guyana closes state-owned sugar factory as industry declines

A state-owned sugar factory in Guyana that had operated at a loss for years has been ordered shut down as the government seeks to scale back support for one of the country's leading industries.

The factory in Wales could only continue to operate with significant investment that would make little financial sense given the outlook for the industry in Guyana and throughout the world, Agriculture Minister Noel Holder said late Monday.

Holder said the decision came as part of a broader review of the industry that concluded that better-performing factories, known locally as estates, were subsidizing the rest and that the sector overall was in "dire" shape, requiring at least $60 million from the government this year alone.

"The practice of diverting scarce funds from the good estates to keep the poor performers in operation can no longer be tolerated as the survivability of these estates could not now be guaranteed," he said.

Opposition legislator and sugar union leader Komal Chand condemned the announcement Tuesday and said it would leave about 1,500 out of work.

The closure of the factory west of the capital leaves five remaining sugar factories in Guyana.