Presidential Candidate of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C), Irfaan Ali, has promised that if his party is elected into office come March then they will ensure that all those former sugar workers who were placed on the breadline as a result of the estate closures will get the support they need to get back on their feet.
Ali made this promise to residents at a well-attended public meeting on Friday (January 17, 2020) at Patentia, West Bank Demerara. The meeting was held a stone’s throw from the Wales Estate, which was the first of four estates to be shut down by the incumbent APNU/AFC government.
Three years later, many of those thousands of sacked sugar workers across the country are still struggling to make ends meet while communities are also facing the ripple effects of the closures.
As such, Dr Ali told hundreds of supporters that a PPP regime will work to create opportunities for the people in West Demerara (Region Three), especially those on the sugar belt, to make themselves and their communities economically viable once again.
“What we’re committing to you here in Wales, and other workers who were affected [by the closures] is that we are going to help you to get back on your feet. We are going to support you to get back on your feet. We are going to support your families so that your children can stay in school. We wanna support your families so that you can be stronger once again… We owe you that, the country owes you that and we must give you that,” Ali declared.
The PPP/C President hopeful went on to point out that while the Party has promised to reopen the four closed estates – something which still stands – it may not be able to do so immediately since it will first have to examine all the destruction done by the coalition to those factories.
Nevertheless, he noted that an Irfaan Ali-led administration will also focus on strategic partnerships with the private sector but in a transparent manner unlike the secret deals being undertaken by the coalition.
“That is why we said when they closed the sugar industry, they should’ve done a social or economic impact assessment. If they had done that, they would see that not only the workers will suffer but all the communities and other workers would also be affected. Because when the estates were closed, there was no money to buy from the small farmers and so on,” Ali posited.
Building on this, Opposition Leader and General Secretary of the PPP, Bharrat Jagdeo, further told supporters that the PPP/C will ensure that those private cane farmers who were also affected by the Wales closure get help.
“All of the farmers who were supplying cane to Wales [Estate], we have to find alternatives and we will support them too, from Canal and other places, because they used to produce and they used employ people. We have to find ways to assisting them so that they can get back into production… We have a duty to ensure that all the people treated badly by this Government get redress,” Jagdeo asserted.
To this end, he urged supporters to ensure that they turn out to vote on March 2 to ensure PPP’s victory, which, he noted, should be by an enormous margin.