Gov’t will return agriculture to its rightful place in local economy – Dr. Singh
Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Hon. Dr. Ashni Singh says the PPP/C Government understands the importance of agriculture to the economy and will ensure the sector returns to being a pillar of the local economy.
Dr. Singh was addressing residents of Bush Lot Village, Region Five, Mahaica-Berbice, on Saturday.
“For all time, in fact, it is the agricultural economy that established us as a country. Sugar and rice have been the backbone of the Guyanese economy for decades. And it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. There is no basis on which you can rationalise or justify what was done to sugar and rice during the five years of APNU+AFC.” Dr. Singh said.
Reflecting on the last five years, Dr. Singh said he wonders what could have been the rationale behind the coalition closing the sugar estates without any concern about what it would mean to the people. He said sugar is essential to the West Berbice region.
“You know that when the sugar industry is employing people, and when it is doing well, you know what that means for the village economy, not just for sugar, but for the communities and the economies in which sugar workers live. You know what it means when agriculture is put on the backburner.”
The former administration had closed several sugar estates, saying they were unsustainable. However, the PPP/C has argued that more consideration should have been given to the impact the closures would have on the people’s livelihoods.
Dr. Singh also questioned the thinking behind the increases in land rents; those policies, he said, were designed to crush the agriculture sector.
“You would recall that one of our first actions, when we returned to office, was to reduce the land rental and fees charged by the MMA [Mahaica Mahaicony Abary], which immediately, that single action, immediately made $1.4 billion available, reduced the burden on people like yourselves…”
Dr. Singh said this, among other Government policies, will help return agriculture to its rightful place, noting that the Administration will continue working to improve the lives of residents of Mahaica-Berbice.
Along with improving the agriculture sector, Minister Singh said the Government would also be operationalising a multi-sectoral plan to improve the lives of all Guyanese.
Meanwhile, the Minister encouraged residents to get vaccinated, reminding them that the Government aims to achieve herd immunity through the vaccination of 80 per cent of the population. He called on the adults to take steps to protect themselves, their families and communities.
He also fielded questions from residents on their issues and promised to have their concerns addressed.