The government has done more for the sugar industry than PPP/C -Granger

The outgoing coalition A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance for Change (APNU + AFC) has promised to optimize the sugar industry to ensure continued employment in the event of re-election.

Speaking at the launch of the coalition’s manifesto on Friday, President David Granger said his administration had done more to streamline the sugar industry than previous People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) governments.

“We conducted a commission of inquiry into the sugar industry. We published a white paper. We had a broad consultation. We sat face to face with the union and had to make a very serious decision about restructuring the industry,” Granger explained.

According to him, the closure of the Wales, Rose Hall, Skeldon and Enmore sugar estates was necessary. He argued that the restructuring implemented by his government had created a strong sugar industry in East Demerara, West Berbice and West Demerara and saved 10,000 jobs.

“We inherited a moribund industry and we are restructuring the industry to ensure that these 10,000 jobs will be protected,” he said, adding that if he returned to power, his government would create a industry based on a production of 147,000 tons and would save the jobs of the majority of sugar workers, many of whom have already found employment on the three remaining plantations.

“All three mega-domains are working,” Granger said, referring to the Uitvlugt, Blairmont and Albion domains.

According to the manifesto, an optimized sugar industry will produce for the Caribbean market, for beverages and other industries, and for cogeneration of electricity for the national grid.

The closure of the four estates resulted in the loss of some 7,000 jobs with very little notice.

Granger recently promised access to farmland for sugar workers laid off during the election campaign. “Those [former sugar workers] those who want to farm will start farming and those who want houses will have land for houses,” he promised Leonora last month.

Meanwhile, the manifesto promises the creation of a national land resettlement commission to allow former sugar workers access to land for housing and agriculture.

This particular pledge is part of the coalition’s proposed economic program, which aims to unlock Guyana’s economic potential through the prudent use of enhanced resources.

According to the manifesto, Guyana is now on the verge of achieving rapid economic development and the government has launched a decade of development, which will see the emergence of a modern and prosperous country through the effective and efficient combination of people, his entrepreneurial spirit and natural endowments.

“We will build a nation in which all citizens will enjoy the standard of living to which they aspire and which we have begun to provide,” he said, while adding that the long-term policy is to ensure development, such as enshrined in the Green State Development Strategy (2020-2040).

Part of this policy is to facilitate investment promotion and job creation.

UNPA+AFC also pledges to designate agricultural development zones in each region, to continue the development of rural agriculture that began under the Rural Agricultural Infrastructure Development (RAID) program and to continue and increase the financial and technical support for small and micro enterprises (SMEs) development.

Other promises include the creation of special economic zones to facilitate industry, trade and entrepreneurship, the continued construction of industrial zones and technology parks.

The manifesto states that the coalition also intends to introduce incentives related to the use of new technologies and international standards in business; encourage innovation and development; and, to promote the business process outsourcing (BPO) sector, targeting 8,000 new jobs over the next five years.

Rachel J. Bradford