Govt engineering excuses to close sugar industry – former Agriculture Minister
– despite declarations of spending $B to save industry over past 4 years
Four years have passed since the APNU/AFC took office and the coalition, in a list of achievements, highlighted that some $43 billion was given in bailouts and severance payments to Guyana’s failing sugar industry.
The Government recently noted that it also “took drastic action to save and secure the jobs of over 10,000 workers”.
However, former Agriculture Minister, Dr Leslie Ramsammy said that the present Administration has downsized sugar by more than 50 per cent in the past four years and that was its first step towards the goal of closing the sugar industry.
“APNU/AFC is deliberately mismanaging the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo), engineering its excuse to close sugar. While three sugar estates continue to operate, APNU/AFC is keen on finding an excuse to also close these estates. For more than 300 years, sugar was the most important industry in Guyana, the potential for sugar being an important industry for many decades more in Guyana still exists…and it is foolhardy and reckless for anyone to give up on sugar.”
According to Dr Ramsammy, the Government wishes to end sugar in Guyana for political reasons but this will have “horrendous consequences” resulting in the Guyanese populace being collateral damage.
“For example, the starting of sugar closure, at the end of 2015, precipitated an unemployment problem. Four years into the APNU/AFC term in office, Guyana is mired in an unemployment crisis, a crisis that started in 2015 and catapulted in 2016 by the closure of the first of the four sugar estates that are now closed. The total closure of sugar, if the Guyanese people allow APNU/AFC to achieve this goal, will mean that the unemployment crisis will be sustained for generations to come, oil will not be able to rescue us,” the former Agriculture Minister recently stated.
Dr Ramsammy elaborated that the past four years have not been “good news” for GuySuCo or for employment in the country.
“More than 37,000 jobs have been lost, according to conservative estimates, with sugar accounting for more than 7000 direct jobs and many thousands more indirectly. By then, business activities have dropped by as much as 50 per cent with hundreds being laid off…Meanwhile, Guyanese are dismayed at the sustained ugly disinterest APNU/AFC has shown towards GuySuCo. This deliberate disinterest by the Government and, particularly, by the Minister of Agriculture, Noel Holder, has contributed to the overall mismanagement and incompetence in the operations of GuySuCo.”
He added that the Administration’s seeming disinterest is a “deliberate” strategy to end sugar in Guyana.
“Clearly, APNU/AFC appears to have engineered an economic strategy in which oil is the new economic pillar and that Guyana’s economy will be an oil economy. There is no future for sugar under APNU/AFC.”