Former President and Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo on Thursday asserted that he has received information that an assessment done by the Special Purpose Unit (SPU) on the closed Sugar estates suggests that the facilities were viable.
“…and so, if this is true and I hope the media will ask them … it would be very disturbing, because we believed this to be so, but we asked our Government to do a feasibility study of these estates and the industry before it took any decision to send home workers and they refused to do that,” he said during a press conference at his office on Thursday.
According to Jagdeo, the firing of over 7000 sugar workers has now created enormous problems for families and households across the country, especially in rural areas and for another study to be conducted to reveal that “these estates, with small injection of funds, could have been viable would be criminal.”
Moreover, he posited that if his information is proven to be true, then his Party –the People’s Progressive Party- will be in support of having all of these estates re-opened.
In the past, the coalition Government has made its position clear that the move to downsize the industry was a necessary one, as the monies used as annual bailouts were too much.
However, the Opposition has always maintained that if this was the case, the laying off of workers should have been done in stages so as to allow the estate workers to better prepare themselves for alternative employment.
Now that the preliminary valuation works of several estates have been completed, the Skeldon, Rose Hall-Canje, East Demerara/Enmore, and Wales Estates are now being advertised for sale.
It said it hoped that potential investors would begin visiting the various estates, in order to make assessments of the facilities as part of the preparation of their proposal to the SPU.
Head of the SPU, Colvin Heath-London was quoted in a statement from his agency that “work continues apace both with the process being carried out by the [global accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers] PWC and with the efforts of the SPU to maintain the operations of the estates as going concerns until they’re handed over to investors at the end of the process”.