A silver lining Editorial
Stabroek News
July 27, 2002

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Amidst the widespread despair due to continuing criminal violence and political instability it was a small respite to read that two of our major public companies managed to show an increased profit in their last financial year.

Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL) increased its profit after tax to $793 million and a noteworthy feature of this was DDL’s ongoing effort to establish El Dorado rum as an international brand. The Chairman, Mr Yesu Persaud, told shareholders that efforts were being made to push the rum in some 48 countries and that it is now available in major chains in the United Kingdom. The Breitenstein Produkten subsidiary of the DDL group has formed distribution linkages with companies in continental Europe where El Dorado is now increasingly available. It is also available in parts of the USA and Canada. Mr Persaud noted that El Dorado had been adjudged the best rum in the world at the International Wine and Spirits competition for the fourth consecutive year last year.

As for Sterling Products Limited, Chairman John Carpenter announced a profit of $l30 million, fifteen per cent up on the previous year. He also announced a major investment in new machinery and the upgrading of infrastructure and said that $6l0.9 million had been raised for this purpose by a rights issue. It is encouraging that even at such desperate times as these a substantial company has the vision to plan expanded production for the future.

At the same time, it must be admitted that several companies are in dire straits and some have gone into receivership. There are also reports of a few businesses shutting down, at least temporarily, as a result of the continuing depredations of the terrorist criminals who continue their ruthless attacks.

This will impact adversely on employment. As for the overall economic outlook our rice exports to Jamaica are once again threatened by competition from subsidised American rice and though the strengthening of the euro will impact favourably on sugar exports many are concerned with the potential threats to the industry given the stagnant European price and the eventual ending of the protected market.

Indeed the short term future is far from bright. What is going on now will not encourage investors and it is not easy to see where the new jobs that are so desperately needed will come from. The only silver lining to the dark clouds that now darken our lives is that some of our captains of industry are keeping their vessels on even keel and looking ahead optimistically to what we all hope will be better times ahead.