‘Special Company’ to find jobs for sacked GuySuCo workers – Minister Sharma
The Special Purpose Unit (SPU) that has been established to diversify and privatise the assets of the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) will also be responsible for finding employment for workers deemed ‘redundant’, who will have to be let go.
The disclosure was made by Minister within the Finance Ministry, Jaipaul Sharma, during an interactive discussion on ‘Economic Development’ during Guyana Business Summit 2017, venued at the Guyana Marriott Hotel.
Minister Sharma was not the Government representative on panel discussion, but was present in the conference room when the matter was raised regarding Government’s plans for the thousands of workers to be laid off as a result of the administration’s decision to close an additional three sugar estates.
One participant questioned what Government’s plans were for the transition of these workers into gainful employment once again.
The Government’s representative to the panel, Dr Neilson Modeste, in attempting a response to the question, said the administration, in view of the anticipated closure, should have some sort of “alternative programme” to transition the workers to gainful employment.
This response did not sit well with the Opposition representative on the panel, Bishop Juan Edghill, who interjected and pointed out that the Wales factory has already been closed, leaving some 1,700 workers directly without jobs.
The Member of Parliament (MP) was adamant that Government is still to pronounce on the adjustment programme to assist the affected workers.
As such, the Junior Finance Minister, who was seated in the front row, was called upon, and he indicated that it was the special purpose company attached to the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) which will be tasked with finding jobs for the persons.
The total loss of jobs was bandied as high as 10,000, but according to Minister Sharma, the full tally of persons who would become redundant as a result of the additional closures should be no more than 1,500. He, however, did not outline what Government will do to assist those 1500 persons to be gainfully employed.
The Junior Finance Minister drew reference to the fact that some $130 million were voted in the National Assembly for the special purpose company when substantive Minister Winston Jordan had presented a financial paper.
Minister Sharma told the Private Sector Commission’s Summit that it is expected that the factories next on the chopping block could be closed as early as the end of this year, and that the Special Purpose Unit will prepare ‘package programs’ for the displaced workers.
The state of the sugar industry was among the more prominent issues of concern that were debated.
Chief Whip of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), Gail Teixeira, who delivered a presentation on behalf of Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo, had also earlier queried the fate of the thousands to be affected by the imminent lay-offs.
Teixeira, in her presentation, was especially critical of the Head of State, President David Granger, saying his address to the opening of the Business Summit reminded her of the story of ‘The King and his new clothes.’
According to the Opposition Chief Whip, the Business Summit was organised to ventilate serious challenges facing the private sector and country at large, but attendees were none the wiser to plans of the administration, since the presentations have been devoid of substance.
She was adamant that Government must make clear its vision and policies, since it appears that Government is not even quite clear on its role.
She pointed to statements from Government official that the administration was not responsible for the creation of jobs, and that the rice and agricultural sector at large was a private sector problem.
The parliamentarian reminded that the business summit was being held in the context of the existing economic realities.