Please allow me space to respond to former PNCR Executive member, B. Beniprashad Rayman who made an effort to pose questions in true ‘strawman’ fashion. It is always difficult to reply to fiction with fact as readers are often left at a loss of whom to believe. These are the tactics of the desperate, but they must never be allowed to flourish.
Rayman begins by positing that the Diamond and LBI estates were closed by President Bharrat Jagdeo, The Diamond factory was closed in 1985 and a large area of the estate’s cultivation was retired. Bharrat Jagdeo was a student at the time. In 2011, a decision was made to close the LBI factory. The decision was taken against the backdrop of the improvement of the Enmore factory and the construction of the packaging plant which yielded a higher price for the sugar produced. Few of the workers were affected by the closure; some were retained at LBI to work in the enlarged workshop that was created while the others were transferred to work in the Enmore factory and a small number that opted for early retirement. In contrast, the actions of the Granger administration are unmatched for their callous nature.
In April 2016, the Granger administration closed the LBI Estate which ceased to exist and many workers were shown the door. A few weeks later, Granger announced its closure of the East Demerara Estate and put thousands out of work. Granger has closed four sugar estates and put seven thousand persons out of work. The rationale offered by Granger’s Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan that “Probably it was destined that way. Probably God wanted it that way that we have to make the decision now,” who also said that payment of workers severances was a “drag” on the economy. David Granger is not done with the Sugar industry by any means, GUYSUCO remains the country’s single largest employer, going by Ramjattan pronouncements, probably nothing but total closure of the sugar industry will satisfy ‘God’.
The absolute fiction of the PPP government closing down the bauxite industry is in direct contrast to the facts; production of bauxite declined rapidly after Burnham nationalized the industry in the 1970s. In the mid-1980s, bauxite production was 1.5 million tons per year or half the annual level of the 1960s and 1970s. The state-owned Guyana Mining Enterprise Limited (Guymine) suffered repeated losses as a result of inefficient management, declining world prices for bauxite, and prolonged strikes by workers. The losses drained the company’s capital reserves and led to the deterioration of plants and equipment. Guyana’s single alumina plant, located in Linden, used to separate 300,000 tons per year of aluminium oxide from raw bauxite ore until the facility closed in 1982. Interestingly, it was the USD 400 Million levies paid by the sugar industry that propped up bauxite and Burnham’s burgeoning Public Service. How soon we forget!
In 1992, PPP/C met an arrangement by the Multilateral Financial Institutions (MFIS), which funded and placed MINPROC as manager of the Linden Bauxite Company (LINMINE). MINPROC’s purpose was to determine and demonstrate whether LINMINE could be profitable. MINPROC reported that the there was no pathway to profitable operation, however, the PPP/C did not shut down the industry. They subsidized the industry until OMAI came onboard as a managing partner/investor. The PPP brought in both current employers in the bauxite industry, Bosai, and Rusal. The PPP has also enabled large scale gold mining and timber operations whose employees are primarily from Region 10.
Having dispensed with the distracting fictions, I can discuss a matching of performance by Irfaan Ali during his tenure as a Minister and David Granger as President. Irfaan Ali held the important Housing and Water portfolios, he delivered 28,456 new housing units, more than anyone in the history of Guyana, provided transformational leadership in the industry, with his ‘one-stops’ delivering expedited house-lot ownership throughout the country. Irfaan Ali delivered twenty-five new wells and seven treatment plants, moving access to potable water from twenty-five percent of the population to over fifty percent. Granger has held one portfolio during his tenure as President, Oil, and Gas, this he assumes reluctantly after widespread criticism and dissatisfaction surfaced about Raphael Trotman’s disastrous engagements with ExxonMobil, namely, the hidden $18 Million Bonus and the two percent renegotiation. Granger has not accomplished anything in the O&G sector, and in fact, passed the work of securing the interests of Guyanese through Local Content legislation to Dr. Mark Bynoe, a crony who wrote for Granger’s National Review publication. Bynoe also passed the buck; this work has been delegated to foreigners to the detriment of the local populace. Granger as President cannot match the achievements of Ali as Minister. I will concede that David Granger is unmatched in his incompetence; mismanagement; untrustworthiness; undermining of democracy; lack of vision; lack of leadership; condoning of corruption and his penchant for pursuit of the trivial.
Over the coming months, Irfaan Ali will deliver speeches outlining his vision for Guyana’s future; they will be as detailed as articulate. In the same period, Granger will subject us to the vague ‘good life’ promise he has been making since Noah was a boy. Granger has promised much and delivered very little; Granger deliberately cloaks his incompetence in vagueness. Irfaan Ali’s promises will be made on deliverables, based on sound economic principles and an unmatched performance record.
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