By Kurt Campbell
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Hundreds of Sugar workers are at the moment protesting outside the Parliament Building where the consideration of the estimates of the 2014 budget will commence shortly.
The sugar workers grievances are in relation to the speculation that the Opposition will disapprove the $6B allocated in the budget to the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo).
The first estimates to be considered when the House convenes is those of the Agriculture Sector.
“If they want to cut, let them cut cane,” protesters shouted.
The protest action was being led by General Secretary of the ruling People’s Progressive Party Clement Rohee, Ministers of the Government and other party representatives.
Those protesting contended that if the money is disapproved, it could possibly lead to the shutdown of the industry, thereby putting them out of jobs. Sugar workers form a large part of the PPP’s support base.
Rohee charged the more than 300 sugar workers to demand from the Opposition that they approve the money. Government has been providing subventions to the industry over the last two years, none of which was ultimately disapproved.
Meanwhile, Alliance For Change (AFC) Executive Member Moses Nagamootoo joined the protesters and was meted with much disgust and rejection.
He told iNews (www.inewsguyana.com) in an invited comment that the protest was ethnic mobilization on the part of the PPP.
To this end Agriculture Minister Dr. Leslie Ramsammy rejected Nagamootoo’s assertions, stating that it was an absolutely reprehensible comment and he should be ashamed.
He argued that the sugar workers had a right to protest for their subvention, positing that it was the same people the AFC would return to for support at the next elections.
Dr. Ramsammy admitted that indeed there were challenges in the industry but noted that the administration is working to address those challenges.
Meanwhile, Nagamootoo told iNews (www.inewsguyana.com), “I understand they were told that they would be paid a day’s pay to come and do this so I don’t see why they wouldn’t, I want to warn sugar workers not to be misused by the government.”
Nagamootoo said his Party and the Opposition by extension is concerned with the mismanagement of the industry and the lack of a plan to steer the industry in the right direction.
He recalled demands for audits into the monies spent so far, which has not been forthcoming.
The AFC Executive said what the opposition wants is to see the money spent to benefit sugar workers and a reexamination of the estimates.
The APNU and AFC has said before the commencement of the budget debates that the industry should consider moving in a direction to start producing ethanol and aquaculture.