Mar 13, 2017 News
– PPP MP slams ‘short-sighted’ measure
Producing seed paddy as part of its divestment programme for the Guyana Sugar Corporation will add to the surplus of the product locally as there is no market currently to absorb the paddy.
This is according to People’s Progressive Party Civic Member of Parliament, Dharamkumar Seeraj.
“I understand they want to start a rice seed project down there, I looked at the document that was submitted. It is all wrong, the figures are wrong, the way that they intend to go about it is wrong and the end-product that they intend to produce, we have a surplus on the market of it currently.”
Seeraj told this newspaper that based on the document he would have examined, government intends to plant seed paddy at the estate as part of its divestment programme and to sell it to the rice research station of the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB). However, he said that GRDB recently had to move over 3000 bags of high quality seed paddy to the rice mill because there was no market for it.
He added, “And here is where the government, as part of its divestment programme, wants to move now to Wales to plant seed paddy and to sell it to GRDB, when GRDB already has a surplus. So it is a short-sighted measure.”
According to the PPP MP, the programme has failed even before it has begun. Further, he mentioned that a part of the divestment programme is to produce juices and milk. However, he does not believe the plan was well thought out with a market analysis being done.
“When you have to go now and establish dairy farms without giving support to the farmers there is no way that you can compete with milk in the supermarket; and it would be unconscionable for a government to impose draconian taxes on milk.”
He said that the divestment project is aimed at taking attention away from the real issue, which is that government does not have an alternative as to what is going to happen after the full closure of Wales estate.
When asked if alternatives were put to the government to consider, Seeraj said that as far as he understands, GAWU had presented a written document to the government outlining its concerns and called for the commissioning of a social and economic impact assessment on the communities which stand to be affected. The results from this assessment, according to Seeraj, could help to guide the way forward on the issue.
“I understand that the People’s Progressive Party Civic had made a similar call and that once they are in possession of these studies, then they will be in an informed position to make recommendations as to the way forward, taking into consideration the well-being of these people.”
On Thursday, during a protest action outside Public Buildings (Parliament) the Wales workers called on the government to allow GuySuCo to discharge its legal obligations by providing them with their severance payments. According to the union, there is no comprehensive plan at this time to address the fallout from sugar estate closure and divestment. The union believes that the sugar industry has all the possibilities to be placed on a viable and sustainable path.
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