Wales Estate closure: Ali slams Govt for ‘ignoring’ recommendations of Economic Services Committee

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People’s Progressive Party (PPP) point man on the parliamentary Economic Services Committee (ESC), Irfaan Ali, said Government has not been adhering to any recommendation made by the Committee regarding the issue of the Wales Sugar Estate closure.

On Sunday, Agriculture Minister Noel Holder was quoted by Guyana Times as saying that Government was still awaiting an assessment of the Economic Services Committee, where the report of the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the sugar industry was sent in January of this year.

PPP/C MP,  Irfaan Ali
PPP/C MP,
Irfaan Ali

It is hoped that the report would provide some guidelines so that a decision could be made about the future of the more than 1700 workers of the Wales Sugar Estate.

Holder said too that there seems to be some amount of carelessness by the Opposition PPP, which is part of the Committee, to make known its recommendations. The Party is represented by Ali, who is also a Member of Parliament.

Ali, however, on Monday said the Committee has been having countless meetings with numerous recommendations being passed onto Government. However, those recommendations are not being accepted, he said, adding that the Committee has issues with the way Government has been operating, since, instead of taking the recommendations, it has been acting on its own and implementing the ideas of outside sources.

He said Government has been acting “wantonly” and that includes the very closure of Wales Estate. According to him, if Government wants any recommendation from the Committee, it must ease on its closure of estates.

Following the announcement of the Wales Estate closure, Government had sent the final report of the CoI into the sugar industry to the special parliamentary committee for review. It is still awaiting that report. According to Holder, the committee has been in existence for far too long and should have already carried out most of the work required.

He said by now, the Committee should have already had discussions with persons who participated in the Inquiry, among other matters. He said the Committee was, however, expected to meet on Wednesday, May 11 (today), and hoped that some developments could be had in this regard. Holder noted that the future of the sugar workers continued to hang in the balance.

Government, in January of this year, confirmed that the Estate would be closed in December after Guyana Times  broke the story.

The announcement had sparked a series of outraged protests over the months following. Workers and their families said they were unsure of what the future held for them, especially since they knew no other form of work.

On Friday last, the High Court issued an interim injunction barring GuySuCo from dismissing or redeploying hundreds of sugar workers attached to the Wales Sugar Estate, without first consulting with their unions, the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) and the National Association of Agricultural, Commercial and Industrial Employees (NAACIE).

 

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