EYEWITNESS: Bleeding…

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…sugar workers

Ever since the PNC-led Government of David Granger slid into office, he’s led the way in justifying the firing of 7,000 sugar workers — and shutting down four of the seven sugar estates — by invoking the imagery of them “bleeding” the treasury. And, of course, if this were allowed to continue, the “patient” Guyana would have “haemorrhaged” to death.

In this scenario, the sugar industry was “sick”. And the situation was so dire, the subsidy for three years — recommended by its own CoI! — couldn’t be extended to bring the entire industry to a point of sale!! But, to conclude: the industry was in its death throes and taking down the country with it. Shouldn’t Granger have at least factored in the role his PNC party played to get the industry into that state?

At the very minimum, this might’ve reminded him of the deeper structural challenges the industry faces, and perchance dissuade the regime from applying a treatment that looks like it’s worse than the disease!! So why and when did sugar become sick? We know that, up to the sixties — when we were about to gain independence — sugar production had climbed all the way up to 350,000 tonnes!

By the end of the decade, workers had even won “profit sharing” – 60% to workers and 40% to Bookers. But when sugar prices skyrocketed by SEVEN times in 1974, and every sugar worker would’ve become a millionaire after profits were declared, this was something that Burnham couldn’t stand!! How dare sugar workers – rabid supporters of the PPP – become wealthy??!! They must remain in penury.

He immediately imposed the SUGAR LEVY, which not only scraped off all the excess profits for that year…but from every year after, when sugar had returned to “normal prices”. By 1976, after he’d nationalised the sugar industry, on top of the LEVY, he appointed PNC loyalists to run the industry. Even if they wanted to, those loyalists couldn’t modernise the factories, because there was no money available after the levy. Workers’ wages fell precipitously, and the industry production fell to half its level by 1990.

The point of all of this is the “haemorrhaging” Granger now complains of was caused by the deep wound inflicted by the PNC’s levy and politicised management – which even the PPP’s Herculean efforts couldn’t staunch. The Skeldon Modernisation Plan was a belated effort to rationalise sugar production, and its failure was not in strategy, but in implementation.

When the sugar levy was carrying the country on sugar workers’ backs for thirty years, no one complained then that SUGAR WORKERS were haemorrhaging the treasury.
The PNC’s “bleeding” slander against sugar workers only adds salt to their dismissal wounds.
Shame on them!!

…from self-inflicted wounds

Is there no end to the follies of Basil Williams? Your Eyewitness wouldn’t have minded if it was just Basil Williams…but since he’s the AG of Guyana, folks outside of Guyana end up thinking if such a man could be the legal advisor to our Government, what does that say about our country? His record as AG in the Caribbean has already caused much mirth in the Caribbean legal fraternity, but his latest caper takes the cake.

This is the Law School he’s been assuring all and sundry he was going to establish here by this year-end. Now it’s next year. While he insisted he had approval for the school, and even blamed the previous AG and the former Chancellor for stymieing it, it turns out the Public Private model he’s proposing isn’t even permitted by the Council of Legal Education!!

…rigging

Why would Patterson, the PNC’s man at GECOM, so arrogantly spurn the UNDP’s offer of assistance on the imminent Local Government Elections?

Is rigging so inbred in the PNC’s makeup it just spurts out even without provocation?

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