“Special initiative” for 7000 sugar workers fired by APNU/AFC – Jagdeo

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…to meet with them soon

Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo

The Guyana Government is expected to implement a special initiative in the near future that focuses on bringing benefits to the thousands of ex-sugar workers who were dismissed under the APNU/AFC regime.

Some 7000-plus sugar workers were placed on the breadline after the APNU/AFC Administration downsized the industry and shut down four estates across the country. Many of those workers have not been able to secure permanent jobs and remain on the breadline years later.

However, the PPP/C, during the 2020 election campaign trail, had promised to reopen those estates and rehire those sacked workers.

During a recent interview with a social media commentator, Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo pointed out that Government has not forgotten this promise. In fact, Jagdeo disclosed that he will soon be meeting with those former sugar workers on this.

“We remember our pre-election promise and soon, I’ll be meeting with [the ex-sugar workers]. There is a special initiative that we’re working on for the 7000 workers who were laid off. Soon I’ll be meeting with them to explain more about this initiative… We intend to fulfil our promises,” the Vice President indicated.

Several efforts to contact various Government officials including Jagdeo for additional information on this special initiative were futile.

File photo: Retrenched sugar workers

Back in 2016, the former APNU/AFC closed the Wales Estate, and the following year, shut down the Enmore, Rose Hall and Skeldon Estates, putting over 7000 sugar workers on the breadline. The downsizing of the sugar industry resulted in only the Uitvlugt, Blairmont and Albion Estates in operation.

However, since the PPP/C Administration assumed office in August 2020, they have been putting systems in place to reopen the Enmore, Rose Hall and Skeldon Estates. Due to the deteriorating state of the Wales factory, that estate will be converted into the Wales Development Authority – an industrial facility that will see the development of not only agriculture but agro-industries, processing facilities, manufacturing and other sectors to drive economic activities.

Additionally, Government, through the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) has already moved to rehire over 700 sugar workers.

Meanwhile, in fulfilment of its promise to reopen the closed estates and return the sugar industry to a viable state, since taking office last year, the Dr Irfaan Ali-led Administration has injected some $9 billion dollars into the sugar industry – $7 billion from the 2020 Emergency Budget to recapitalise the sugar industry and another $2 billion in the 2021 budget for critical capital works at the sugar corporation.

A further $1.5 billion in supplementary funding was also approved in the National Assembly last month for the restructuring of GuySuCo.

Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha had told the National Assembly that so far, 40 per cent of the works to restructure GuySuCo has been completed. He also revealed that there is a plan for the overall sugar sector which is currently being fine-tuned.

In fact, Chief Executive Officer of GuySuCo, Sasenarine Singh during an interview with this publication just over a week ago, explained and with the sugar company is in a better financial standing, it has paid off almost $900 million in debt to its urgent trade creditors and unions.