“I believe this and I say this sincerely that the agony of the Wales’ workers is a genuine agony…sometimes when some doors are closed, other opportunities are opened up. I believe for the workers of Wales and their families, I believe living all their lives dependent on the sugar factory and sugar estate is that their agony is shared by many,” Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo posited during his Budget Debate presentation last evening in the National Assembly.
Nagamootoo explained that the closure of the Wales Sugar Estate factory does mean that the workers’ employed there would be displaced and suffer, but other opportunities for them to maintain their livelihoods can and will be available to them.
However, the Prime Minister opined that there is need for the sugar workers to be more educated on this move and the gains that can be achieved in the future.
“I still believe that efforts should be made to undo what had happened, that is; the workers were not told in a timely manner about the impending closure. I still believe that you need to have conversations with the workers and their families to explain what opportunities are opening up for them…how the closure of the factory and the merging of operations with Uitvlugt will affect the lives and perhaps make possibilities better for them,” Nagamootoo stated.
With regards to the Government’s move to close the Wales Sugar Estate Factory, although the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) report into the sugar industry did not recommend such a decision to be taken at this point in time, the Prime Minister declared that his Administration is not bound by everything which the Commissioners recommended.
“We have interrogated the Commissioners and we want them to explain their findings and to rationalise their findings but as a Government we are not bound by the recommendations…and we cannot dictate to the Board which is an independent and autonomous Board. We cannot give political directive to the Board if it says a certain operation should be rationalised,” the Prime Minister said.
According to Nagamootoo, when the Board of Directors (BoD) at the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) says that it has made a certain decision, his Cabinet takes “notice” of that decision, and has the right to either approve or disapprove.
“In this case we were convinced that there were good financial and economic sense to merge the operation of Wales with Uitvlugt because we believe that it had become a millstone around the neck of the sugar industry…if left to go unattended it would pull the entire sugar industry down and all the sugar workers would be affected in Guyana…” the Prime Minister added.
“The Commission’s report had been sent, had been tabled in this Parliament and referred to a select committee, or will be referred to a select committee in this House for its deliberations and considered view on the recommendations,” he added.