Sugar belt: Govt should visit communities, see the suffering- Hinds

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As many dismissed sugar workers continue to deal with the social, mental and financial challenges that are afflicting them, Government is being encouraged to visit the affected communities to see how its policies have impacted on former employees of the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) and their families.

WPA Executive Dr David Hinds

This was the admonition of outspoken political commentator and Working People’s Alliance executive David Hinds, who posited that Government must conduct social and ethnic impact assessments in moving forward with future decisions.

He made these comments at a recent event at Patentia, West Bank Demerara, a village that is contiguous to the now closed Wales Sugar Estate.

Patentia residents have, in recent days, complained of increased criminal activities, including petty theft and robberies.

“I think that when you are making decisions to lay off so many people, you have to think about the impact of families and on communities; and I think the decision makers did not put enough thought into that impact, and we are clearly seeing that here,” Hinds expressed at Patentia.

The political commentator surmised that when the breadwinner is out of work and cannot provide in timely manner for children, it affects the education and physiological state of their offspring. He reasoned that uncertainty impacts upon children, and acknowledged that crime would increase.

“People would look for alternative ways of survival, and that’s where the deviant things like crime come into play,” he noted.

Observing claims that Government “meant well” by taking its decisions on the sugar industry, Hinds conceded that he is not surprised by perceptions that certain groups could feel disenfranchised and discriminated against.

He, however, explained that all Administrations of Guyana should take extra care in analysing how groups respond to State policies of the Government of the day.

“I take the point that because a Government is of one ethnic group, and you’re implementing a policy that will in the main affect the other ethnic group, you have to be extra careful. My point is that they did not intend to discriminate, but they were not careful. When you are implementing a major policy, you should have an ethnic impact assessment to see how policies would affect groups in certain ways, because we live in a country of ethnic sensitivities,” Hinds reasoned.

He added, too, that severance packages are not enough for the severed workers, who would have been able to structure their lives from a steady income. He also called on Government to visit the communities to see how residents are suffering from policies.

“I am in favour of the restructuring of the sugar industry largely because I think that it is causing too much to subsidise; but my point is that the ordinary people must not be the sufferers. Therefore, Government now has to come back into these communities and hear from people. Government must be mature enough to say we may have erred,” Hinds told this publication.

“You don’t stop from being a cane cutter on Monday and walk into another job on Tuesday,” he added. At the same time, he called on corporate citizens to throw in their lot to assist the communities affected by Estate closures.

Government ordered the closure of Wales Estate based on cost-saving measure due to billions of dollars that were allocated to the declining sugar industry.

However as a result, nearly 4000 workers from Enmore, Rose Hall and Skeldon were dismissed in late 2017, and over 1000 were dismissed from Wales in the previous year. This means that over 5000 persons and thousands more family members are likely to have suffered from Government’s policy. (Shemuel Fanfair)

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