Last Updated on Friday, 9 December 2016, 15:52 by Derwayne Wills
Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo said the $31B injected to save the sugar industry from its death-bed under the PPP should debunk claims that this government is not interested in the sugar industry.
“They came like a discordant choir,” PM Nagamootoo told the National Assembly in the absence of the opposition PPP, “they didn’t recognise the courage it takes to embrace measures we embraced to streamline the economy… and to make citizens responsible for their own citizenship. In the end, they walked away.”
The Prime Minister said the budget is neither pro-business, nor anti-people, but it is a pro-growth budget.
“Just a few months after we came into office,” Nagamootoo observed, “we saw the patient named sugar in a comatose state and [Finance Minister Winston] Jordan said ‘let us inject $12B, and we saved sugar.”
The PM questioned the PPP’s debate position that the government committed economic genocide in the sugar industry “when a few months after we gave another injection of $11B.”
“$23B was injected into the industry to keep the sugar workers and ensure their families had a livelihood,” the PM continued, “again we are accused of genocide when we put $9B into the sugar industry as a further bailout.”
The Prime Minister believes diversification would help the ailing sugar industry, a position supported by Finance Minister Jordan who called for a radical shift in the sugar industry during his budget debate presentation.
“We inherited this sugar industry,” Nagamootoo championed, “it was already placed by Dr jagdeo to a death bed. It was shackled to the bed. It could not move from the deathbed. Sugar industry was brought to a state of bankruptcy.”
Nagamootoo went on to criticise the PPP government’s investment of $50B into the Skeldon Sugar Factory.
On the closing of the Wales Estate, the Prime Minister admitted his government handled the situation incorrectly, saying workers should have been engaged. He then explained GuySuCo’s efforts to pay severance packages to the sugar workers affected by the closing of the Estate, or to be merged with the Uitvlugt Estate.
Nagamootoo explained the sugar workers’ union then sought to block Guysuco from paying that severance, a move which was rescinded after the sugar workers petitioned their union, and were paid some $80M in severance from the sugar corporation.