All hands needed on deck for sugar to succeed – President Ali

President, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali said the success of the nation’s sugar industry cannot be stirred by the efforts of the government and management only, as he called on the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU), to play its part to ensure the sector achieves remarkable goals.

The President was at the time addressing a massive crowd during the wreath laying ceremony to commemorate the 74th anniversary of the Enmore Martyrs, at the Plantation Enmore, East Coast Demerara Monument.

The President emphasised that it was the PPP/C who led the efforts when the industry was shattered and some 7, 000 Guyanese lost their jobs during the previous government’s tenure in office.

“We are not here to fight the industry. It is this government that is finding billions of dollars to bring back this industry. It is this government that bring back the jobs. It is not this government that took away the 7, 000 jobs, the direct and indirect loss to the industry was more than 30,000 jobs,” the President underscored.

Providing the facts, Dr. Ali told the gathering that the previous APNU+AFC was responsible for implementing the more than 200 taxes that eroded disposable income.

“So, when we speak about human dignity and the struggle for human dignity, it is a philosophy of this government to struggle for human dignity. That is the funding principal of this government,” he noted.  

The Guyanese leader said government will continue to support sugar, as it understands the social and economic value of the industry.

“We are going to work on restructuring the management and working with the management to strengthen their measures and policies to turn the industry around. But we need the union in this process also,” President Ali underscored.

He said the sacrifices of the martyrs afforded Guyana the opportunity to produce and provide valuables that were not envisaged at that time.

As Guyana improves economically and financially, the President emphasised that the nation’s workers must feel the benefits.

Government has since invested some $12 million to revitalise the industry and is advancing efforts to return the thousands of jobs that were snatched from Guyanese.

On June 16, 1948, Rambarran, Pooran, Lallabagee, Surajballi and Harry were killed by colonial police during a strike at the East Coast Demerara estate. The five martyrs were among a larger group of workers, many of whom were also injured during the exercise to demand better working conditions.

The President underscored that the blood of the sugar worker was not shed only for the industry, but for human dignity and honesty, and for Guyana to rise as a nation which provided a platform for the achievement of independence.

To confine their contribution only to the sugar industry will be mistakenly narrowing their contribution to the nation’s development, the President said.

More disposable income in pockets of Guyanese

President Ali highlighted a number of achievements by his government to date which have seen billions of dollars in disposable income being injected into the pockets of Guyanese.

Government has spent some $612 million in year-end tax free bonuses for healthcare workers. All central government employees benefitted from a seven percent across the board increase that placed some $10.5 billion in the hands of 50,000 families.

Notwithstanding the challenges in the sugar industry, workers also received a seven percent retroactive on their salaries.

The PPP/C Government has also increased the ceiling on low-income mortgage from $8 million to $12 million. The loans ceiling which was granted by the New Building Society (NBS) was advanced from $12 million to 15 million.

A further 400 million was placed in the hands of frontline workers in the healthcare sector.