Government and opposition in bitter battle over state of sugar industry – Demerara Waves Online News – Guyana
Updated on Thursday, February 3, 2022, 1:13 by Denis Chabrol
The opposition A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance for Change (APNU + AFC) lambasted the government on Wednesday for heavy investment in the sugar industry whose expected production is 65,000 tonnes this year, but the administration civic movement of the ruling People’s Progressive Party cited last year’s devastating flood as a major reason.
UNPA+AFC Juretha Fernandes pointed out that Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh said the sugar farming sub-sector declined by 34.7% in 2021, bringing production to 58,025 tonnes from 87,875 tons. “They came to this house and they say we didn’t know what we were doing. They came to this Chamber and they say they are going to reopen the sugar cane plantations,” she said. Ms Fernandes accused the government of knowing that sugar was failing and that for three successive budgets it had failed to increase production.
Additionally, UNPA+AFC MP Vinceroy Jordan said the coalition left government in 2020, leaving behind a plan to produce 147,000 tons of sugar per year, but since then production has fallen by 34. .7% after spending nearly GY$30 billion on the state-owned Guyana Sugar Corporation. in 2020 and “still failed to reopen on the estate. Mr Jordan described the government’s plan to increase production of packaged sugar from 34% in 2020 to 64% of total production.
Public Works Minister Deodat Indar said overall the agricultural sector, including the sugar industry, was 9.1% “ravaged” by a two-month flood last year.
Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha said earlier this week that closed estates would be opened in phases, even as he was heckled and asked “how much you reopen”. He explained that an additional GY$6 billion would be invested in the sugar industry, which would benefit thousands of people and communities. “When we invest an additional $6 billion, we create more jobs; tens of thousands of jobs that we create and we help tens of thousands of families and we inject more money into the economy of the village and thousands of people benefit; not only the sugar workers, but also the people who live in the community and continue to benefit indirectly,” he said.
The then UNPA+AFC had closed the Rose Hall, Skeldon, Wales and Enmore estates and laid off over 7,000 workers. Since their return to power in August 2020, at least 1,500 sugar workers have been rehired as part of efforts to reopen the estates.
Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo recently told the state-owned National Communications Network that the sugar plantations would be reopened to ensure they remained a concern for local and foreign investors.