Govt in talks with fmr PSC Chairman to head GuySuCo as current CEO set to take diplomatic post

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana
Former PSC Chairman Paul Cheong

Former Private Sector Commission (PSC) Chairman Paul Cheong is tipped to take over as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo).

Cheong is currently a member of the GuySuCo Board of Directors.

A source close to this development told this publication that President Dr Irfaan Ali has been having discussions with Cheong and those talks are “progressing”.

If fruitful, Cheong will be taking over the helm of GuySuCo from current CEO Sasenarine Singh, who will be heading to Europe for a diplomatic posting. Singh is tipped to be Guyana’s Ambassador to the European Union (EU), a post which has been vacant for several years now.

CEO of GuySuCo Sasenarine Singh

Efforts to contact the incumbent CEO for a comment were futile. However, in a cryptic post on his personal Facebook page on Saturday afternoon, Singh said: “Life gives you an opportunity to continue what you have been doing or be more than what you were.”

In addition to the current Board, Cheong, an accountant and business executive, has also sat on previous GuySuCo Boards as well as Boards of other State agencies. At present, he also serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Guyana Oil Company (GuyOil) and Chairman of the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL).

Cheong served as PSC Chairman for two consecutive years. He was first elected to the post in April 2021 and re-elected in 2022.

Meanwhile, Singh, a financial analyst, was appointed as CEO of GuySuCo in September 2020. He took over the helm of the cash-strapped and heavily-indebted sugar corporation at a critical time of transition to viability.

After a massive downsizing by the previous A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) regime, the current People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government has been making heavy investments into the revival of the Corporation including through mechanisation of its operations.

Singh has overseen the reopening of the Rose Hall Estate in Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) and the rehiring of more than 2000 sugar workers who were sacked by the coalition Administration while another 5000 former sugar workers received severance payments.

However, Singh’s tenure has not been without troubles. Back in June 2022, the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU), which is the largest representative body for sugar workers, had called for his removal after GuySuCo recorded one of its lowest production figures.

In June of that year, President Ali had called executives and managers of the Sugar Corporation to State House, where he had met with them and expressed the need for sweeping changes at GuySuCo to improve efficiency and accelerate their timelines for mechanisation of the estates.

Then in August 2022, renewed calls for Singh’s removal were sounded by Shadow Agriculture Minister and AFC Leader Khemraj Ramjattan, after then GuySuCo Vice Chairman Tony Vieira had resigned from the Board of Directors, saying that he was not happy with the direction in which the Sugar Corporation was going. His resignation followed a heated confrontation with Singh at the previous meeting over their disagreements on the purchase of tractors for GuySuCo.

In a leaked audio recording from the meeting, Singh and Vieira were heard having a heated exchange during which inappropriate name-calling was used by the CEO.