Under a People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Government, there will be better security and tax incentives for fisherfolk. This assurance was given by the party’s Presidential Candidate, Dr Irfaan Ali on Saturday as he addressed thousands of supporters at a meeting at Corriverton, Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne).
The region, Ali said, has undergone tremendous hardship not only with increased taxes on supplies but with security.
Many fishermen, Ali noted, lost their lives at sea but the APNU/AFC Government did not even have the courtesy to sympathise with the families of the dead fishermen.
“It was our General Secretary who not only met with the families here but went over [to] neighbouring Suriname to meet the families there. That is why we are going to address this issue of fisherfolk in our manifesto. We must ensure that they are secured. We must equip them and put systems in place that they will be safe when they go out there to earn their living,” Ali told the thousands in attendance.
He said the fisherfolk need to be supported with tax incentives and also markets, noting that under the David Granger-led Administration, Guyana lost its catfish market in the United States.
“This is because of incompetence,” Ali told the gathering.
He said under his Administration, the fishing sector will be given priority since, in Region Six, it affects a number of lives and a number of jobs benefit from it.
“Our first task is to ensure that you are safe in the fishing industry, to ensure that you are giving incentives so we will remove the taxes on equipment and supplies and we have to ensure that the State builds a strong mechanism to keep you safe out there.”
He said under his Administration, not only is he going to ensure that the sugar industry is resuscitated, but he will ensure that employment is restored.
“That is only a part of the plan because we have to ensure that sugar is viable and sustainable.”
To do that, he added, there will be a need for further investment in the industry.
“We have to ensure that in the future no sugar worker will worry about the survival of their jobs anymore.”
The Presidential Candidate added that investment in agriculture will improve to build transporting infrastructure while noting that many farmers spend quite a large sum of money.
He recalled that many rice farmers in the region have had to bear the burden of additional cost to pump water into the rice fields while the Government has not assisted them in any tangible way.
“We are going to fix this …when we invest once again in drainage and irrigation services, in farm-to-market access roads and stronger and better markets. We are going to be supporting the input cost so that their produce which includes rice and other crops will become sustainable and profitable.”
Oil and gas funds
Addressing the much talked about sector – oil and gas – Ali told the thousands gathered that under a PPP Administration, funds generated from this sector will be used to build other segments of the economy including support for farming and agriculture so that the region will become a sustainable food basket for the Caribbean.
“We are going to open up new lands so that you will have more areas for farming and so that you can increase the production of food. So, as you think of the future be prepared for a new wave of investment in this region to expand agriculture and bring back the vibrancy and profitability in agriculture with the Government’s support.”
Ali in no uncertain terms said that every crop in agriculture is the Government’s business.
“Government has a responsibility to support farming and agriculture and your new PPP/Civic Government will lead the way. Region Six will become the farming and agriculture capital when it comes to rice production. We have to support you when it comes to investing infrastructure,” he said.
The implementation of agro-processing facilities is also a part of his Government’s plan.
He added that the PPP/C manifesto speaks of a microcredit and grant facility for farmers. This, he explained, will reduce the cost of financing as farmers will easily be able to get loans and grants to expand agriculture.
Emphasis, the Presidential Candidate noted, will also be placed on ensuring that farmers get certification for their produce. This will allow them to enter the export market thus giving them new markets with a better price and ensure that those markets are sustainable.