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‘If PPP was not in Govt, thousands of sugar workers would still be on the breadline’ – Ali 

Since assuming office in 2020, the PPP/C government has piloted a policy matrix that ensures sustainability and vast transformation in the sugar industry.

President Dr Irfaan Ali has reiterated that the government is pursuing a diversified portfolio that sees sustainability in the resources, the economy, and the people.

Within this context, he revealed that for the first half of the year, the sugar industry has seen marked improvement, with a 30.1 per cent growth.

“When compared to the first half of 2022, the sugar industry grew by 30.1 per cent, and as you know, we are fully committed to the revival of the sugar industry, and the integration of this industry in the local economies and the regions of this country,” the Head of State told reporters at a press conference at State House on Saturday.

He said that resources are continuously being funnelled into the sugar industry to revitalise its processes and to promote the sustainability of the sector.

Adversely, the previous administration demonstrated a clear disregard for the livelihood of Guyanese when they dismantled the industry, rendering thousands of sugar workers unemployed.

“Those who are masquerading around as promoters and defenders of the sugar workers are masked in their banditry of destroying the industry. These are the open-masked individuals who stood in parliament and criticised our defense of this industry and keeping it alive,” he said.

President Ali reminded that, since 2020, the almost 2, 000 sugar workers that were left unemployed following the closure of the estate were rehired. Additionally, the Rose Hall estate is scheduled to be reopened soon, with an $8.8 billion investment by the government.

Almost 1,300 persons are currently employed at Rose Hall, and the head of state noted that the reopening has propelled the demand for new jobs, as there is a vacancy for some 800 cane harvesters.

“So, not only are we bringing back those who were fired, but we are opening up more opportunities. We have expended, in capital support, more than $17 billion. Upon the government returning to office, sugar workers were paid 5 per cent retro. This five percent that was paid, was denied by the last government. More than $212 million was paid to the workers with this 5 per cent. The government has fully funded the wages and salary increases of sugar workers for 2021 and 2022. These are the facts,”

The government also implemented a $250, 000 cash grant for the sugar workers, putting more than $1.3 billion into the pockets of these persons.

Approximately 8,000 employees are currently being supported through the sugar industry in ensuring that these persons are able to earn a living.

“If we were not in government, they would have been on the breadline. The community despair would’ve been there. We have brought the industry back, and we intend to keep investing in it to make sugar viable,” the President assured. [DPI]