The Region Six Chairman, David Armogan, is pleading with the Coalition Government to hold on its plans to close the Rose Hall Sugar Estate in East Canje Berbice, citing the massive negative impact such action would have on the region’s economy.
Speaking at the launch of the Berbice Expo and Trade Fair late last week, when he addressed a gathering which included Government officials and members of the private sector, Armogan made the impassioned plea in regard to the foregoing, and said that even as Berbice is preparing for another Expo and Trade Fair, there is need for expansion in the business sector.
Congratulating the Central Corentyne Chamber of Commerce (CCCC) for ensuring that the event is held annually, the Regional Chairman said Berbicians look forward to the event not only to see businesses display their wares, but also because it doubles well as a family event.
This year, he announced, there will be a difference in the character of the event, because the expo is being held at a difficult period in the region’s history.
“Our businesses in Region Six [East Berbice/Corentyne] have declined by almost twenty-five per cent in terms of sales, and we have seen many businesses laying off workers. I hope some of these things can be looked at, so we can create employment opportunities in this region through manufacturing and other trade possibilities; so that we can create additional employment in this region,” Armogan declared.
As an agriculture-based region, he said, both rice and sugar are experiencing “hard times.” Rice cultivation has declined from the 52,000 acres of a few years ago to a current totality of 42,000 acres; and its husbandry has been hit by flooding, resulting in 3000 acres less being cultivated and a further 16,000 acres being damaged by flood waters. Nevertheless, the chairman noted, there still is hope for rice cultivation to rebound.
Armogan said the future of sugar also does not look good, since the Rose Hall Estate is slated to be closed at the end of the year; and what is worrying is the negative impact its closure will have on the economy.
“We will have less income in the Berbice economy because, as you know, the Rose Hall (Estate) generates about G$50 million in terms of wages every week, in terms of wages and salaries. Most of this is going to be taken out of the economy and withdrawn from the circulation system; and that, too, is not a good sign. So I am hoping that Government will use its good senses and delay the closure of the Rose Hall Estate until alternative employment for the displaced workers can be found within the region. And this has to happen with the manufacturing of more goods and the provision of more services within the region,” Armogan announced. (Andrew Carmichael)