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House approves $6B sugar subsidy

Sugar workers picketed Wednesday’s sitting of the National Assembly.

The parliamentary opposition Wednesday night voted in favour of the $6B subvention for the struggling GuySuCo as consideration of the $220B budget estimates got underway.

The parties had been indicating since the budget reading on March 31 that they were going to cut the subvention if they were dissatisfied with the answers to their questions.

Agriculture Minister Dr. Leslie Ramsammy was peppered with questions about how the money would be spent and the competence of a new GuySuCo Board.

He had indicated that the turnaround plan for the industry had to be reworked and it was suggested that he return for a part of the subvention later. But Dr. Ramsammy said it was important that they had the money to make the investments now in order to capitalise later.

More than 100 sugar workers had gathered outside the Public Buildings earlier in the day to protest against a possible cut of the sugar money.

Speaking to Demerara Waves Online News afterward the minister said he had been worried that the allocation would have been cut but he was grateful the opposition MPs gave him a chance to furnish them with the answers to their questions.

“I am glad that we were able to provide the assurances because it would have been a mistake to cut GuySuCo budget. Even if we have concerns about GuySuCo we should be addressing those concerns, find practical ways of addressing them.”

According to the minister, sugar was too important an industry not to be supported. He added that the passage of the subvention demonstrated a “conviction” that GuySuCo could work if the right things were done. 

With the exception of the allocations for the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority the rest of the funds earmarked under the agriculture heading were approved unchallenged.