Closure of Wales estate a strategy to ‘suffocate’ sugar industry – says Former Agri. Minister

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Former Agriculture Minister Dr Leslie Ramsammy holds strong to his view that the decision to close the Wales sugar estate is “a mistake” on the part of the APNU+AFC government which will have a devastating impact.

He told INews that this decision by the present Administration demonstrates the coalition government’s “ill intent” towards sugar workers and the industry as he contended that there is no economic basis for closing the Wales estate, located on the West Bank of Demerara.

Dr Leslie Ramsammy, former Minister of Agriculture
Dr Leslie Ramsammy, former Minister of Agriculture

As a result of this course of action, he said there will be an adverse effect on not only the country’s already flailing sugar industry and Guyana’s economy but more importantly on the livelihoods of people living in Region Three.

“The intended closure of the Wales Sugar Factory is one that APNU+AFC was determined to do from the inception and is not merely because of any recommendation from the COI. It is in fact the beginning of the closure of the sugar industry that several members of APNU+AFC had proposed prior to the May 2015 election in Guyana.

Even though leaders like Nagamootoo and Granger were forced to say that they will not close the industry, clearly those pre-elections assurances were merely meant to disguise their true intention,” the former Agriculture Minister posited.

He explained that with the shutting down of the Wales estate, the cost of production of sugar at the Uitvlugt, West Coast Demerara (WCD) estate will skyrocket and the transportation of sugar canes from Wales to that location will be overwhelmingly costly to justify maintaining any operation in West Demerara.

According to Dr Ramsammy, the closure of Wales estate is a strategy to “suffocate” the sugar industry in West Demerara and to ensure there is “justification” for the eventual closure of both West Demerara factories.

“My position is that closure of Wales is merely a first step for APNU+AFC to close the entire sugar industry in West Demerara. Not only is this a devastating betrayal of the sugar workers and people of Region 3, but it represents a threat to the entire industry. The first step of closing Wales will mean that many private cane farmers in Canal Polders One and Two will find cane farming to be unmanageable and will abandon cultivation so many jobs will be lost at Wales and the West Bank of Demerara,” he further stated.

Dr. Ramsammy said that, at present, there are many poor persons already residing in Region Three and the move to shut down the Wales estate will only succeed in increasing the number of people who are poor.

“APNU+AFC, by closing Wales, will make a move towards reducing Region Three to a depressed community,” he added. (Kristen Macklingam for INews)

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