Citizens protest outside Parliament over closure of sugar estates

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  • as well as VAT and used tires ban

Scores of persons staged three separate protests in front of the Parliament Building earlier today (Monday), just before the commencement of the sitting of the National Assembly where Government was expected to detail its future plans for the sugar industry in the form of a ‘White Paper’.  

The calls by Guyanese were for the Government to revoke Value Added Tax on private education fees, reverse the ban on used tyres and revisit plans to have the other sugar estates closed. 

Some of the demonstrators managed to evade the police and their barricades and walked in circles in front of the Parliament Building. Many of them were seen being chased back behind the barriers until several Opposition Parliamentarians, armed with placards, joined them in their silent protest.

Opposition Members of Parliament who spoke on behalf of the protesters condemned the actions of the Government. They vowed that once they return to political power, VAT on private education fees, the ban on used tyres and the closures of estates, will all be reversed.

“It is our party’s intention that upon returning to office…we intend to, within a few days, revoke some of these measures,” Nigel Dharamlall, Opposition Member of Parliament said.

Scores of protesters related to the media about the hardships they are facing, with not only the heavy taxation measures, but with the fear of becoming unemployed.

Speaking about the struggles of tax on private education fees, one student indicated that though it is understood that private education is not compulsory and Guyanese have the option of receiving free public education, the teaching system within the public sector leaves room for major improvement.

Estate workers and their families also noted that if more estates are closed, they will lose their jobs, which serve as their only means of providing for their families. The workers pleaded with the Government to revisit this plan.

“How I gon take care of my family? They depend on me. My children lil. We need our jobs in order to  survive,” one man explained.

In addition, a few of the protesters were also some former estate workers who have not yet been paid  their severances.

The demonstrators promised to continue protesting until Government takes action to address their concerns. 

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