The sugar industry must not return to where it was

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Dear Editor,
The GAWU saw a Capitol News report in which AFC leader, Mr Khemraj Ramjattan described the support by the Government of Guyana to GuySuCo as “…pouring good money in a wholly unprofitable project…”. Mr Ramjattan specifically spoke to the plans to reopen three (3) of the four (4) estates that were closed when the AFC leader occupied a senior post in the then Government. We found the statement hardly surprising and reaffirms the anti-people tendencies that was exhibited when Mr Ramjattan sat in Government. From all appears, it seems to us, that the ethos has continued to exert a strong stranglehold regardless of the disastrous consequences spawned from such decision making.

The GAWU recollects that Mr Ramjattan was one of the most ardent supporters of estate closure. It was a major about turn for him. We recollect too that at the Coalition’s Whim Rally in March 2015 he assured his audience, certainly which comprised sugar workers, that the APNU+AFC would not in anyway close the sugar industry. Of course, less than a year later, then Vice President Ramjattan was betraying that very commitment as he led the Government’s delegation to engage the then Opposition and trade unions in the sugar industry regarding the closure of Skeldon, Rose Hall and East Demerara Estates. During the so-called consultations, an exercise we deemed a sham, Mr Ramjattan was unmoved notwithstanding several credible suggestions offered. He refused bluntly even the consideration of a socio-economic study. He told the Unions and the Opposition that if they desired such a study, they should do it themselves as his Government, from all impressions, had no intention of such an exercise. So, it is against that background that we were hardly surprised by his recent utterances.

But delving deeper, it seems to us that the AFC is advocating a situation where thousands of Guyanese remain pauperized. Certainly, that appeared to be the plan of the AFC while in office and it seems it intends to continue such advocacy having been ejected from the seat of power. For us, to openly advocate for people’s lives to regress, rather than progress, makes Mr Ramjattan and his party unfit and improper as national leaders. Clearly, it seems to us, that the AFC has no compassion for ordinary Guyanese as the Party remains ensconced in its ivory tower. We contend that no leader worth their salt would advocate such policies given the obvious economic hardships and social disruption. But maybe it is that the AFC leadership is broken the proverbial mold.

Today for the thousands in the sugar belt whose lives were deeply affected by the decisions of Mr Ramjattan and ilk, the dark clouds are slowly dissipating. They look forward anxiously as they see their lives slowly coming back to what is once was, though we must lament for some it cannot return to what existed before. What it demonstrates it the contrast between real, genuine leadership and the ‘blow-blow’ leadership the Coalition sought to pass off. For the GAWU, we remain unhesitant in our support for the revitalization of the sugar industry. We believe there are many opportunities that offer good and sustainable potential and should be grasped at.

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Yours faithfully,

Seepaul Narine

General Secretar
GAWU



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