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Closure of Wales estate an “assault on PPP strongholds” – Jagdeo

Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo interacting with workers of the Wales Sugar Estate moments before addressing them about the implications of government’s plan to close the factory.

Leader of the Opposition Bharrat Jagdeo says that the move by the APNU+AFC administration to cease all operations at the Wales Sugar Factory and  Estate of the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo)  is a direct assault on supporters of the Opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) but it will not bode well for the country.

Jagdeo, addressing cane-cutters , residents and others at Wales on Tuesday afternoon made it clear that his party opposed the move to close the estate as it would deprive sugar workers of jobs. He said the Commission of Inquiry did not recommend the closure of any factory or estate but government has gone ahead and announced plans to close the Wales Sugar Factory by October, 2016. Canes planted by private cane farmers, Guysuco, said would be transported to Uitvlugt, West Coast Demerara.

However, the Government has made it clear that some displaced workers from the Wales Estate will be absorbed by the Uitvlugt Sugar Factory, located several miles away on the West Coast Demerara.

“We have to treat all of our people fairly and equally regardless of their race or religion…It seems as though there is an assault on PPP people…This is seen as another assault on PPP strongholds…we have to vigorously oppose any such actions, actions that are grounded in political action,” Jagdeo told those gathered a stone’s throw from the visibly decrepit sugar factory.

He maintained that the PPP will oppose closure of the sugar industry “whatever” it takes. He said that the Party is prepared to take to the streets to protest any move by the government to close or privatize the industry after a debate on the Commission of Inquiry Report in the National Assembly and planned talks with the government. “I said to the workers in Berbice that if they (government) attempt to close the industry either openly or in a backdoor way, through a hustled privatisation programme, that we will have to all at some point in time take to the streets and we in the PPP are prepared to that to ensure that this government understands that they have to pay attention to the needs of our people, all of our people regardless of who they support,”

Taking it further, Jagdeo noted that while the closure is an assault, it will redound to affect the economy as a whole.

“It has a huge impact on the entire economy of Guyana…It is still one of the largest foreign currency earners for this country…The drainage and irrigation system relies on GuySuCo…You cannot look at it purely from a financial perspective, you have to look at it from an economic perspective…You have to keep sugar alive,” said the Opposition Leader.

“You cant punish PPP people alone…if the sugar workers do not earn the people who sell in the market will not earn…everybody will not earn,” he stated.

The Opposition Leader also stated that several private cane farmers who rely on the estate to take in their produce will now be displaced since it  will be uneconomical to transport the cane to Uitvlugt.

“It will become like a ghost town…they not looking at the impact it will have on villages,” he stated.

  • rollonrolloff

    When he was President he ever think about uneconomical ,everything went private BERBICE bridge ,sanata textile ,GPC,

  • Emile_Mervin

    OPINION:

    Jagdeo is doing what any desperate, racist politician would do. I mean, when the Jagdeo regime was pushing to privatize bauxite – deemed a PNC stronghold – there was no talk from him about any assault on it as a PNC stronghold. His regime argued economics was the sole reason for privatization.

    In fact, Sam, Hinds, a former senior manager in the bauxite industry and who promised in 1990 to be a bridge between the Indian-dominated PPP regime and black communities, was sent to sell bauxite workers all the economic facts why government could not continue running the industry at great loss to the treasury. And bauxite workers were forced to swallow the bitter pills, including watching their billion dollar pension plan collapse as payouts were done.

    Today, the shoe is on the other foot and sugar is a drain on the national economy. After billions in subsidization each year, the reality is that sugar is no longer sustainable in its present form. This year alone, GY$12B will have to be found to keep it afloat, and that is without sugar bringing in anything of substance.

    Sugar workers have to recognize they were being sustained by the PPP for years strictly for partisan political and not national economic reasons. They were lied to, misled and misused all along. Even their union head asked in 2014 for the PPP regime to account for all the billions in subsidy money the EU gave towards sugar the last decade.

    None of them even knew how perilous or dire the situation was in late April 2015 when the sugar boss told the new coalition government the industry would face closure in a matter weeks if money was not pumped into the industry. He saud the indystry was BROKE! That revelation should have been a wake up call for sugar workers to abandon the PPP, but when you are gullible, who can educate you?

    Closing down of Wales Estate, therefore, may require a political decision but for purely economic reasons. And unlike bauxite, sugar will still be owned and operated by the government. Sugar workers will still continue to be paid wherever work is available. Bauxite workers had to reapply to the Russians and Chinese owners.

    Jagdeo can rally sugar workers for racist and political reasons, but reality will prevail as the truth continues to emerge. Wise sugar workers should seek alliances outside Jagdeo’s corrupt influence and buy Wales Estate and operate it as an independent entity. It could be the best privatization method that was denied bauxite workers.

  • The Viper

    Forget about whose “stronghold” it is.. what does the government have planned for the hundred(s) employees (families) that are now without a monthly income?

    A few will go to uitvlugt (where there is a vacancy) but what about the rest?

  • Dharamkumar02

    Jagdeo is a shameless power hungry beast. This opportunist is at Wales trying to continue to fool and brainwash the people. In 2009 who closed Diamond Sugar Estate and for what reason, tell the people the truth and don’t continue your power hunger trend for votes, it will not work anymore.

  • This man is such a dishonest simpleton. …….he continues to be an embarrassment to many in the PPP.