Opposition Leader, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo is questioning the grounds on which the Government made the decision to close the Wales Sugar Estate, highlighting that the Commission of Inquiry (COI) report into the matter did not recommend this.
“On what basis is the Government making the decisions about sugar since they repudiated the Commission of Inquiry report? The President said ‘its not gospel’ and they departed from it, because it did not recommend closure of any estates,” Jagdeo posited.
He further explained that after a voting process, the majority voted against the closure of the estate, “and so since they’re moving away from the COI report, what study is the Government using now to validate or to support the decisions it’s making about sugar-the closure of estates, privatization of estates?…”
Jagdeo posited many other questions and relayed his hope that the Government will provide adequate responses.
“Has there been an economic feasibility study done? Have they looked at social impact of closure or privatization of estates? Where is the study?,” he asked, while noting that decisions about the future of an industry of this magnitude cannot be made on the basis of “gaff and whims and fancies” of individuals.
The decision to close the Wales Estate was made earlier last year, and the estate was closed on December 31, 2016.
The Wales Sugar Factory and estate was one of the oldest located in the country but was operating at a huge loss, so the incumbent administration thought it best that the Wales estate be closed.
Agriculture Minister, Noel Holder had said that the lands would be diversified for economic gains and some of the workforce would be merged with Uitvlugt estate, while the others would be laid off.
With its closure hundreds sugar workers employed at the Wales estates, as well the private farmers who used to supply approximately half of the sugar cane output to the factory were left in dire economic straits.
Those who decided to travel the great distance between Wales on the West Bank of Demerara to Uitvlugt were merged, while those who opted out, received their severance packages following the withdrawal of an injunction filed by the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers’ Union.