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Millions needed for drainage in former Guysuco estate areas; GY$2.4 billion for workers’ severance

With the closure of several sugar estates and the state-owned Guyana Sugar Corporation no longer responsible for drainage in those communities, government on Thursday asked the National Assembly for GY$350 million to finance additional works by the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA).

Government is also seeking parliamentary approval for GY$2.451 billion to pay the final tranche of severance to retrenched sugar workers following the closure of the Skeldon, Rose Hall-Canje, East Demerara and Wales Estates. o President David Granger said some of sugar workers would be rehired. Earlier this year, government paid a total of GY$1.931 billion to 1,600  sugar workers who had been entitled to GY$500,000 or less in severance pay.

The divestment of some of the sugar estates, which is expected to occur as early as the first half of 2019, will see some displaced workers being afforded the opportunity to work in the production and processing of rice and other crops, livestock, fisheries, construction, manufacturing, services and mining, while others will be re-employed as part of plan to boost sugar production at Albion, Blairmont and Uitvlugt Estates.

“The divestment of some of the sugar estates, which is expected to occur as early as the first half of 2019, will see some displaced workers being afforded the opportunity to regain employment,” the President told Parliament in his address to mark the commencement of the session after a two-month recess.

In the explanation provided in supporting documents for the financial paper, the Finance Ministry said GY$350 million is for drainage and irrigation works the NDIA has assumed from Guysuco.

“This request is in keeping with the government of Guyana’s policy for the Authority to assume responsibility for the drainage and irrigation duties that were once under the purview of Guysuco,”

Another GY$250 million has also be requested for NDIA’s increased cost of operations and maintenance of machinery and equipment due to “unplanned works resulting from the prolonged rainy season and 10 additional pieces of machinery as a result of the court decision relative to GUYTRAC”.