Wales Estate workers receive severance pay; not a “pick-pocket” budget – PM Nagamootoo

Last Updated on Friday, 9 December 2016, 15:12 by Denis Chabrol

FLASH BACK: A small number of Wales Estate factory workers outside the Wales Estate Sugar Factory.

Almost 100 sacked workers at the Guyana Sugar Corporation’s (Guysuco) Wales Estate  have received GY$80.1 million in severance pay, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo announced on Friday.

He said after the monies were paid to the 93 former workers at the Wales Estate, the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) that had brought a court case against the company for failure to pay the monies due.

“The union then went into a state of silence,” he told the House in the absence of the opposition People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) parliamentarians who walked out of the Chamber after Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo led them out.

Government has decided to close down the Wales Estate, as part of a plan to reduce the amount of subsidy that the National Treasury provides to the state-owned GuySuco.

The Prime Minister admitted that government erred by not engaging the workers at Wales Estate to discuss their future.

Nagamootoo rejected claims by the opposition that government was a “pick-pocket” (thief) because  government employees earning less than GYD$100,000 per month have received a 10 percent salary increase, Old  Age pensions have been increased from GYD$12,500 to GYD$19,000, the income tax threshold has been increased and the National Insurance Scheme’s (NIS) coffers have been replenished by GYD$5 billion for a failed investment in the CLICO insurance company. “It hurts that (they say) we brought a pick-pocket budget,” the Prime Minister said.

The PPP has slammed the GYD$250 billion budget for introducing Value Added Tax on water and electricity, and reducing the number of zero-rated VAT items.