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…says GuySuCo was beaten down to its knees under Granger administration
Vowing to restore Guyana’s Sugar Industry, President Irfaan Ali said it was under the David Granger-led Administration that the Industry hit rock bottom due to poor policy decisions and the failure to inject much needed financial resources.
“The once greatest contributor to our nation’s economy, has been beaten down to its knees, and the workers tossed to a heap of unemployment and misery,” President Ali said during his inauguration ceremony on Saturday.
According to him, sugar workers – the bedrock of our nation – have been made to suffer untold hardship. “Once proud men who worked in the sugar industry from sun-up to sun down, never complaining about the back-breaking nature of their jobs, are today barely scratching a living. Their anguish is not only that they can’t earn a decent wage; it is that they cannot feed their families. Hunger and malnutrition abound,” the Head of State said.
But though President Ali laid blame at the feet of the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) Government, records show that the Sugar Industry was on the brink of collapse in 2015 when the Coalition took Office. The Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) was operating at a loss with billions in government subventions pumped into Industry, and to date, Euro166.67M ($34.4B) remains unaccounted for. The money disbursed to Guyana between 2006 and 2015 by the European Union (EU) was expected to go to programmes that mitigated the effects of the declining sugar industry.
In its quest to return the industry to profitability, GuySuCo took the decision to close a number of sugar estates over the years, leaving three in operation: Albion, Blairmont and Uitvlugt.
However, with the Sugar Industry experiencing even more financial difficulties, it is the view of the PPP/C Government that the Industry was abandoned by the Granger Administration over the past five years, and the workers have been deserted.
“No attempt has been made to seek a new path by which aspects of the industry could be salvaged for the production of profitable sugar-based niche products, that would maintain jobs, and by doing so maintain the dignity of labour. While we are still putting together the torn fragments, the picture of the industry appears deeply distressing. The assets of GuySuCo seem to have been stripped by NICIL in and disposed of in a criminal manner,” President Ali said.
He vowed to restore the Industry to profitability. “We intend to raise up the industry and to help it, and its workers resume the once proud place in our economy,” he assured those present at his inauguration ceremony. The Head of State said that other sectors within the country’s economy have also suffered as a result of the poor policies of the APNU+AFC Administration. “The workers bore the brunt of this incompetence, inefficiency and irresponsibility,” President Ali contended, while noting that his Government will dismantle the policies of the Granger Administration that created an environment completely unfavourable to workers. It was noted that the Ministry of Labour will be ensure that workers operate in conducive environments and receive equal pay for equal work.