GEORGETOWN, Guyana (AP) — Guyana's state-owned sugar corporation faces an uncertain future after a report found that the South American country's single largest employer is bankrupt, officials said Monday.
A government-appointed inquiry commission found that the company is nearly half a billion dollars in debt and faces other challenges.
"Every estate, without any exception, is operating at a loss," inquiry chairman Vibert Parvatan said in a preliminary report issued to government officials.
The commission is expected to release a final report later this month to determine what the government should do about the Guyana Sugar Corporation. The company has struggled with an increase in production costs amid falling international sugar prices, and it has faced labor shortages, strikes and changing weather patterns. It also has to pay back a $200 million loan from China that was used to build a new sugar factory in Guyana's southeast region that has struggled to function properly.
Government officials in June fired the sugar corporation's director and forced board members to resign after executives said the company had run out of money to pay workers' salaries.
Guyana is the largest sugar-producing country in the Caribbean Community trade bloc, but it has seen a steady drop in production. The sugar corporation sells about 170,000 metric tons (187,000 tons) of sugar a year to the European Union, but it barely produces enough to meet its quota as it competes with cheaper producers including Brazil, Australia and Indonesia.
Sugar generates the third highest amount of revenue for Guyana's government after gold and rice.