[www.inewsguyana.com] – Agriculture Minister, Dr Leslie Ramsammy has unleashed his fury on A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) Members, Joseph Harmon and Anthony Vieira.
The duo at a press conference on Tuesday, March 11 called for the Skeldon Factory to stop producing sugar and to produce ethanol instead.
Vieira had also noted that the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) should scale down operations and use the lands for fish farming.
In a strongly worded statement issued on Tuesday evening, the Agriculture Minister said rejected what he described as a “wicked plan” by the APNU to close down the sugar industry.
“As the PPP/C Minister of Agriculture, let me state that we will continue to build the sugar industry to be a lead industry in our country and we will work with the sugar workers to ensure that their industry continue to provide employment and economic and social gains for our people and our country. At the same time, we will build an aquaculture industry that will provide additional opportunities for our people to prosper.
“Let me be unequivocally clear – APNU’s call to close the sugar industry is DEAD WRONG. APNU’s plan to close the sugar industry is wicked and it is a plan of a party that has no moral right to even ask the people for the right to be the Government of Guyana one day,” Dr. Ramsammy said.
The Agriculture Minister conceded that there are serious challenges confronting the industry and admitted that it has performed poorly in recent years, however, he rejected the assertion that sugar is dead in Guyana.
“I believe that 2014 will begin to reverse the recent poor performances and demonstrate that sugar is not only a viable industry, but that it is capable of being a lead industry again. Each time, during the last three years when the weather was reasonably good, GUYSUCO’s production demonstrated glimpses of success. For example, in the last two full weeks of operation, GUYSUCO has produced almost 18,000 tons of sugar,” Ramsammy said.
Meanwhile, the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) also took umbrage to the suggestion made by the APNU.
The PPP in a statement said, “The call by the APNU must be viewed as wanton disregard for the wellbeing and livelihoods of thousands of sugar workers and their families across the sugar belt. The APNU’s call for the shutting down of the sugar industry must be deemed reckless and total disrespect for sugar workers, their dependants and the thousands of others who benefit directly and indirectly.”
The governing Party also recalled that two estates were closed by the PNC government and that more recently, APNU refused to support the government’s efforts to ensure that the industry remains viable.
“They voted against the infusion of some four billion dollars into the industry and when questioned why, boasted that ‘it was a PPP problem’. This position is further demonstrative of the callousness of APNU towards the dedicated and industrious sugar workers,” the PPP noted in its statement.
Despite the fact that the US$200M Skeldon Sugar Factory has not been producing to its capacity, the PPP noted that the factory was envisaged to ensure the continuity of sugar production and to save thousands of jobs for the ordinary working class.