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Reference is made to articles on the Enmore sugar packaging plant (March 8, 7, February 24, 18). The government “secretly leased” the plant to a political operative for a pittance of what it cost taxpayers to build.
I recall that in 2009, the PPP government announced the construction of the plant for US$1.4 Million that was to create a lot of jobs. At the time, the projected cost was thought to be overpriced. Then the cost went up to $2 million. A local company was to construct it. Then suddenly government contracted Surendra Engineering of India to construct the plant. The cost reached US$12.5 million. How did the price move from $1.4 M to $12.5 M — nine times the cost. Why was there no audit and transparency of the cost?
I have not forgotten the gala opening ceremony of the plant (May 9, 2011). Guests splurged on cocktails and snacks and full meals. Some political operatives were treated like reincarnations of the lords by the Indian contractor, Surendra, with loud music and regalia.
So a plant that was to cost less than two million American dollars ended up with government paying over twelve millions and now leased for a small amount a month to the politically connected for a project that has nothing to do with sugar. The facility will be re-fitted for the oil industry. Is government moving away from sugar and agriculture. Workers at the sugar packaging plant have lost their jobs; most of them are women. Congratulations to government for firing women during Women History Month and International Day of Women. Government has not announced any compensation or severance pay for these women.
In fact, the union, GAWU seems not to aware of the closure of the plant and termination of workers according to your Feb 18 report captioned GAWU writes GuySuCo on Enmore sugar packaging plant, and Feb 24 captioned “GuySuCo, GAWU for meeting on Enmore packaging plant deal”. This brings back memories of a former President threatening to deregister GAWU when it sought benefits for workers. And now it seems GAWU was not even aware what was happening at Enmore under President Ali. Will GAWU allow this to go unchallenged? Will it stop the lease and save sugar worker jobs? Will Dr. Jagan have disrespected GAWU? Will GAWU allow this injustice?
After being criticized for the secrecy of the deal, an embarrassed government has announced that the Enmore plant has not been closed but will be relocated to Albion. Why move it? Is government trying to fool the workers and the public and its sugar industry supporters? The terminated women are not going to be rehired at Albion, some 50 miles away.
Twelve million dollars or 2.5 billion Guyana dollars have gone down the drain. Workers are on the breadline; those employed at Enmore will not be able to relocate to Albion. Assuming a new packaging plant will be built, it will exceed the US$12.5 million for the one at Enmore. Workers will have to be recruited, hired, and trained costing millions more. That money would could have been used to increase salary or social benefits or to hire additional workers at Enmore. Why is government wasting the peoples’ money? Instead of giving the Enmore plant to political friends for an oil project, why not let the investors build their own plant for the oil project and save taxpayers the money while retaining the jobs of the workers, those poor working class women?
Is government fooling sugar workers and its supporters and the country at large on its plan for sugar? So far, after 18 months in office, none of the four estates has been re-opened as it committed during the election campaign. The policies announced for Enmore clearly shows that Enmore will not be re-opened and the four thousand workers and their families who were tied to the estate, am it’s all of who voted PPP, will remain permanently unemployed.