The People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) Sunday competed with the opposition coalition for space over the future of the ailing sugar industry and credibility surrounding the Jaganite brand of politics.
Against the backdrop of A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) promising that it would not close the sugar industry but it would be revived and the sweetener properly marketed, the PPPC .
The PPPC sought to deflate criticisms of its governance style and corruption by the son of late Presidents Cheddi and Janet Jagan, Dr. Cheddi ‘Joey’ Jagan by presenting to the thousands of supporters a nephew of the late Guyanese leaders, Dr. Clive Jagan.
“I am the nephew of Dr. Cheddi Jagan. I know the gentleman well. I know he loved me and I know I loved him dearly. My friends, what I would say to you today you believe what I say. I know that if Cheddi Jagan had to speak to you today, he will say that you should come out in your numbers on May the 11th and go put your X next to the cup,” he told the PPPC rally at Albion, East Berbice. A large percentage of the attendees arrived by minibuses, privately-owned vehicles and trucks that transport sugar workers. Tolls were waived for vehicles crossing the Berbice River Bridge to go the rally.
The younger Jagan, who said he has been a card-bearing PPP member since the 1970s, praised his party for being responsive to the social and economic needs of Guyanese and dedicated to the late Guyanese leader’s principles of justice, freedom, progress, liberty and democracy.
Joey Jagan has been appearing on APNU+AFC campaign advertisements, saying that there could be no good governance if there is corruption. “You can’t have good governance with corruption and so anytime there is corruption you got bad governance and that is what we have here, we have bad governance,” he says.
Addressing the rally, President Donald Ramotar announced a package of plans to pump life into the state-owned sugar industry that has been beset by huge debts and low production due to strikes, bad weather, poor plant husbandry and theft of supplies such as fertilizer.
In addition to infusing GUY$20 billion into the Guyana Sugar Corporation (Guysuco) over the next five years, the President said co-generation plants would be installed at Albion and Enmore estates to earn revenue by selling electricity to the national grid. Plans, he said, were also in train to produce ethanol on a commercial basis to offset the impact of low international prices for sugar. “We want to ensure the production so that when the price of sugar is low like it is low on the world market we can produce more ethanol for sale and when it is high we can switch back to producing more sugar,” he said.
Guyana is among several former European colonies that have been hit hard by a 36 percent reduction in the price that the European Union (EU) pays for sugar.
The Guyanese leader said if elected his government would tap into financial technical assistance from India to make the sugar industry more efficient as well as continue with mechanization, plant other varieties and invest in factories so that they would extract more sugar and establish a sugar refinery. “Sugar has always been close to the heart of the PPP,” he said. Government hopes that Guysuco would eventually produce 400,000 tons of sugar by 2020.
The opposition has repeatedly accused the PPPC-led government of mismanaging the industry.
PPP leaders intensified their attacks on APNU+AFC Prime Ministerial candidate, Moses Nagamootoo, in a bid to discredit him, saying that he was political opportunist who has betrayed supporters of the party he had been a member of for almost 50 years. Specific reference was made to the killing of several PPP supporters in 1973 while preventing soldiers from removing ballot boxes.