Jan 26, 2016 News
President David Granger has made it absolutely clear that his government is under no obligation to fully
comply with all the recommendations set out in the report coming out of the Commission of Inquiry set up to examine the Sugar Industry.
He said this in response to observers and politicians who condemned the government’s decision to shut down the Wales Sugar Estate.
Opposition Member, Komal Chand, who is also President of the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers’ Union, (GAWU), had recently called for other items agenda of the National Assembly to be adjourned to facilitate an impromptu debate on the matter.
But this call was rejected by the Speaker of the House.
Chand told Members of the National Assembly that a substantial number of sugar workers and their families, and thousands of others, who depend on this facility for their livelihood, will be placed on the breadline because of this move by Government.
He said that it is a move that will have dire economic consequences.
Chand later told reports that the decision to close the estate flouts a fundamental and important recommendation of the report coming out of the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the sugar industry. He noted that page 37 of Volume One of the Report says “the COI does not recommend the closure of any estate at this time”.
He noted that the CoI in reflecting on closure of estates at page 30 of Volume One of its report said ”They took into account the current state of the economy which lacks vibrancy, with awareness of the problems in the rice industry, the low market price of gold and the level of ‘unemployment’”
“At page 31 the CoI report said, ”The effect of closing any estate without planning and adequate notice to cane farmers has serious consequences, not only for the employees and private farmers but for the communities as well”.
But President Granger has sidestepped such criticisms saying that his government is in no way compelled to go with what the report recommended.
Granger recently told reporters, “The COI is not gospel.”
He said “We have practical measures to consider and in the case of Wales it is very practical (to close the estate.) It is not the first to ever be closed.”
The President pointed out that that particular estate has recorded major loses and will take an “enormous amount of money to rehabilitate.”
Granger continued, “Wales is not sustainable. It is regretted that it has to be closed but arrangements are going to be made over the next 11 months to ensure that the workers don’t get hurt, that they can be reemployed.
“Maybe it is an opportunity for a wider application of the principle of peasant cane farming. So it is not as if the sugar industry is in jeopardy but I believe that peasant cane farmers can take up the land and that has been tried already in some parts of West Demerara.”
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