Govt’s interest was to save sugar industry – Prime Minister Nagamootoo
– 2000 feasibility study showed sugar industry best concentrated in East Berbice
DPI, Guyana, Friday, December 7, 2018
During the budget 2019 debate, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo stated that it was never the intention of the current administration to close several sugar estates across the country.
He remarked it should be understood that this matter had been carefully deliberated by Cabinet. The Prime Minister said that the government was “carrying this industry” however, their “interest was to save it.”
“It needs to be explained to Guyanese sugar workers that this is a government that has thought over the matter, brought a green paper to this National Assembly having first established a commission of inquiry to look into the problems of the sugar industry.”
It was after this, the decision was made to “modernise and transform the industry, and put finances and capital into the three estate factories that could survive.”
Prime Minister Nagamootoo reminded the National Assembly of a feasibility study done in 2000 concerning the sugar industry which showed that the “estate should be concentrated in the East Berbice where it is better suited for cane cultivation.”
He remarked that it was the previous administration who caused the industry to collapse as they did not heed the advice from the study. According to the Prime Minister, after the Coalition assumed office in 2015, the Cabinet spent “days, weeks and months agonizing on how to deal with the tragedy of the sugar industry.”
“It had become unstainable to operate the sugar industry without bringing the entire economy down!” Prime Minister Nagmootoo remarked.
It was highlighted that alternatives were made available for the retrenched workers and government was prepared to pay workers their severance but it was the PPP/C aligned Guyana Agriculture Workers’ Union who stopped the process from going forward.
“They filed a court action and got an injunction that the severance should not be paid and they were consulted.”
The Prime Minister further explained that the union wanted outstanding payments to deducted before the workers received their benefits.
He noted that the Government kept to their agreement and paid the sugar workers as soon as a ruling was made.
Image: Jameel Mohamed.