LETTER: December 2017 is truly the month to “light a candle” for sugar workers

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Dear Editor,
The Finance Minister has a favourite expression where he states that his Government has kept the economy growing at an average of three per cent when “most of our neighbours have been facing economic and financial crises, with low, no, or negative growth rates”. But you really have to be disingenuous to celebrate your 2.9 per cent growth with a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita of US$4456 per annum and compare it to that of Barbados, with their GDP per capita US$16,096 per annum which is growing at an average of 1.6 per cent. If the Minister’s numbers are to be believed, his GDP growth is generating an average of US$129 per year in new wealth for each person in Guyana; while Barbados it is generating US$258 per year. So even at that lower growth rate, the average Barbadian is walking away with twice the amount of new wealth in his pocket. So what really is this Minister talking about?
You cannot invent economic well-being with words, it requires progressive public policies continually. When one looks at this 2018 Budget, it lacks strategic depth and will generate more empty rice pots across this country because it is an anti-working class budget and it is an anti-business class budget. If you starve the Private Sector and the workers to feed the political ‘fat cats’, then you are destroying the economy because you are stalling the engine of growth to feed the consumers of growth. How difficult is this to understand, Mr Minister?
What this 2018 Budget is lacking is enough executable plans to kick-start the economy but most importantly, it lacks adequate incentives to motivate a people to push themselves to the point that they are more productive and wealth generative. Rather what is the ordinary man observing? He is observing Mr Granger spending hundreds of millions on wasteful project like D’Urban Park (GY$1.5 billion), a Green State House (G$150 million), a Green Prime Minister’s residence (G$100 million), a Government travel and hotel budget (over G$800 million in 2017 and expected to increase in 2018) and so much more in wasteful and reckless spending of taxpayers’ money.
So why should the ordinary man work harder when he cannot even get a Christmas bonus? Why should the workers bend their back some more when the ‘fat cats’ in the Administration are enjoying most of the milk? Today there is an army of officials drawing all sorts of perks and cash from the Treasury for doing very little while at the same time, there is no money for the sugar workers.
Right now, some 700 of an expected 7000 sugar workers have been sent home for a dark Christmas. Christmas 2017 will be remembered as a season of infamy for the people in the Berbice area. December 2017 is truly the month to “light a candle” for the sugar workers of Guyana and Granger and Nagamootoo who are today leading the process that is causing the workers to perish today are the responsible people for this economic hardship. They could have delayed the decision by three months and study the options some more; it was the human thing to do. Only animals fire people at Christmas.
So Nagamootoo the time is now to borrow Ricky Singh’s words and as we observe this Christmas let us all “Light a Candle” for the Subramanian family and the other 700 workers who were fired effective December 29, 2017, by your Government.

Regards,
Sase Singh

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