Feb 16, 2021 News
As public debate continues…
Kaieteur News – Citing the need for equal opportunities in the local fisheries sector, La Jalousie, West Coast Demerara businessman, Rampersaud Sookdeo, has defended his right to hold two fishing licences.
Sookdeo’s licence became a matter of public debate following weeks of opposition-generated pressure and questions laid in Parliament.
Prior to that, opposition Parliamentarian and former Public Security Minister, Khemraj Ramjattan, had asked in the National Assembly questions relating to the granting of trawler licences.
Among the questions asked, were to whom two new trawler licences were issued to for the years 2020 to 2021 by the Fisheries Department of the Ministry of Agriculture.
In a statement disseminated to the press on Friday, Sookdeo, whose identity has since been revealed by the Agriculture Ministry, said that while he had taken note of news surrounding the granting of his two trawler licences to fish, he questions the logic behind the controversy.
“Why should one company have 20 and 30 licences and I can’t have two? That cannot be right. If this is a government for the people, then everyone should be given a chance to make a livelihood,” Sookdeo said, contending that he deserves an equal opportunity as a Guyanese to operate in the sector.
The businessman explained that the licences which he received had been long in coming.
He said that he’s been in the fisheries business for over 20 years, but he operated primarily out of Trinidad because his first attempt at obtaining a licence locally proved futile.
“I was never granted one so I head away to Trinidad. I opened a company in Trinidad between 12 to 15 years ago and operated under the name Hassid Enterprise Limited,” said Sookdeo.
While in Trinidad, he said that he would normally employ Guyanese to work with him.
He said, however, that about two or three years ago, he encountered difficulties getting Guyanese to work. He said too that the operation was becoming costly.
Added to that, with the COVID-19 pandemic bringing its own challenges, Sookdeo said he decided to return to Guyana. Having experienced the difficulty obtaining the first licence, Sookdeo said that he turned to the Government for help. He said too that he applied and went through the process.
“I decided to ask for help from the Guyanese government because I’m a Guyanese and I think the government is here to help its citizens. I can’t have my investment in a country and its going down… Boats deteriorate so fast because of the salt air so if you park up your boat for about two years, you’d be lucky if you get something out of it,” he explained.
Sookdeo noted that he was able to build a name for himself in a foreign land and as such could not understand the controversy behind operating in his own homeland.
“If I can go Trinidad and own a company, why can’t I own one in Guyana and I’m a Guyanese? What is the problem? I’ve been in the business for a long time and I’m very familiar with the industry because I owned and operated long liner boats, red snapper cage boats and shrimp trawlers.”
The businessman said too that given that he was an outsider, it was not easy for him to operate on his own in Trinidad. “I partnered with an old friend in the business under the name Hassid Enterprise Limited. If you speak with the actual trawler operators in Trinidad, they would be able to tell you about me and the years I’ve been operating there,” Sookdeo added.
Now that he has his licences, Sookdeo says his goal is to employ local persons to work.
“I’ll be able to hire more Guyanese than I could have in Trinidad. I want to get my business going so that I can continue to provide for my family. I would just like to be given a fair chance,” he said.
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