GINA, GUYANA, Friday, October 21, 2016

Minister of State Joseph Harmon has reiterated the government’s commitment to having consultation with the Parliamentary Opposition on issues pertaining to the nation’s development.

During the post-cabinet meeting at the Ministry of the Presidency today, Minister Harmon was pressed by reporters for a response to Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo’s call for consultation with the government on the matters pertaining to the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) and other issues relating to national development.

Responding to the question, Minister Harmon noted that “government always stands ready, willing and able to have conversations, to hold discussions, and to have consultations with the Opposition”. Minister Harmon noted that this stance of the Government is one that is well-known having been made public by members of the government including the Minister himself at several public fora.

Minister Harmon explained that government has taken this position because it does not want issues of national development to be made into “political football.”

Issues such as GuySuCo are important to the livelihood of a “significant number of Guyanese” and are critical to the “economic future of the country,” and therefore “any conversation that we have to have on GuySuCo we welcome the Opposition to discuss,” Minister Harmon said. GuySuCo’s problems are not seen as “a political issue but as a national issue”.

Noting that Government is “not running for elections in December…. or anything like that, but as a national issue we believe that the role that GuySuCo plays in the national arrangement will require that we pay careful attention to what is happening there”.

Minster Harmon noted the call by the Parliamentary Opposition to release additional billions to bailout GuySuCo.He added that “whatever is reasonable in the circumstances, I believe that the Minister of Finance has already been approached by the Minister of Agriculture for him to make a decision, to deal with that…I’m sure that there will be proper response to that”.

The local sugar industry has been hard hit by falling international prices and strike action by the representative trade union, the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU).That strike resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars in losses for the industry.

In a recent statement, GuySuCo explained that it is already facing losses of $16 Billion for this year and faced with losses of over $30 Billion over the past two years, the company is not in a position to offer salary increases.

 

By: Paul McAdam

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