Gov’t has delivered on manifesto promises – Min. Mustapha

Minister of Agriculture Zulfikar Mustapha MP, says the PPP/C Government has been living up to the promises made in its 2020 manifesto, almost one year since taking office.

The Minister was at the time engaging farmers in the Mahaica-Berbice (Region Five) on Saturday.

Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha MP Addressing residents and farmers in Region Five

He said the removal of Value Added Tax (VAT) on water, electricity, education materials, basic food items, the increase in old-age pension, along with returning water subsidy for pensioners, and the reintroduction and increase in the cash grant for public school students, are some of the promises delivered.

“As I am speaking now, Minister Manickchand and her team they are going around the country to share out to every child that attends public school the cash grant that the Government promised. Remember it was stopped in 2015 and we made a promise to the Guyanese people that we will re-introduce the cash grant.”

The Minister said since taking office last year, the Government recognised that the economy was struggling. This, he added, was one of the reasons for the COVID-19 relief cash grant to every household.

He also reminded the farmers of the PPP/C manifesto promise to reduce land rental and drainage and irrigation charges.

A section of Region Five residents and farmers present at the meeting

“We went to Parliament; we tabled a Bill there and we reduced land rental and Drainage and Irrigation charges from $15,000 to $3,500. Now every acre a farmer plants, they are saving $11,500.”

Regarding the promise to reopen the sugar estates, Minister Mustapha said the Government is in the process of doing so. He noted the recent contract signed to continue works at the Rose Hall Estate to reopen the facility, along with the Skeldon and Enmore estates.

He said the Government has invested heavily in the recapitalisation of the Blairmont estate to improve the packaging plant. Minister Mustapha said this will add value to Guyana’s sugar, as packaged sugar is more profitable than bulk.

The Minister noted that the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo), for several months, has been working on reducing its production cost while improving quality and efficiency.

The Minister noted that the sugar corporation would have to become independent, as the Government will not be able to bail out the organisation as it would normally do.

“There was a view that sugar is not viable, sugar should be closed and focus on other things, but as a Government we have a responsibility to the people of our country, we have to look beyond sugar. We have to look at GuySuCo as an entity beyond sugar.”

Minister Mustapha said GuySuCo has several responsibilities, beyond sugar.