Govt’s nonchalant approach to rejected rice shipments worrying- fmr Minister

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File photo: White rice being loaded onto the vessel’s hatch, for shipment to Cuba

As yet another shipment of rice will soon leave the Guyana shores for Panama following the recent rejection of some 30 containers of rice by the said country, the former Agriculture Minster, Dr Leslie Ramsammy, along with Dr Turhane Doerga and a number of stakeholders are calling for a Commission of Inquiry (CoI) to be launched into the practices of the Guyana Rice and Development Board (GRDB).

An immediate investigation is being urged into what is being called “the risky behaviour” of the board that speculatively could lead to the loss of Guyana’s largest rice market.

Even as GRDB’s General Manger is maintaining the Panama market is not under threat and steps to strengthen systems are being taken, Ramsammy, who secured the market during his tenure as Agriculture Minister, is expressing shock at the recent developments and the lack of action by the current Agriculture Minister, Noel Holder.

According to Ramsammy, the Minster should be on the next flight to Panama to provide assurances.

The former Minister further condemned the nonchalant approach by the current Administration.

“We worked with Panamanian officials to ensure things were seamless. We invited and hosted Panamanian officials in Guyana before any shipment was made. All of these arrangements have been discontinued. The Panama market is of critical importance and our nonchalant approach is risking this market” Ramsammy criticized.

As such, he called for a CoI to be launched noting that one is currently required. He said “For a (Government) so obsessed with frivolous [Commissions of Inquiry] CoI’s, this requires a CoI”.

Miller and retired Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Alesie Rice, Dr Turhane Doerga is also making a similar call, after strongly criticizing the rejection by Panama.

According to the miller, the actions of GRDB have for too long been swept under a rug and are not being addressed.

It was revealed that the most recent rice shipment was sent by a specific miller, but was however labelled as being sent from a different operation.

Doerga referred to this development as  “fraud” and “collusion” which according to him is at the GRDB level, thereby necessitating his call for an immediate CoI.

“There can be no other recourse than a police investigation, involving the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU)” he was quoted as saying.

Other stakeholders have also called for a comprehensive investigation and the resignation of the GRDB board and current Agriculture Minister Noel Holder over the debacle.

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