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White paper on Sugar industry up for debate; Opp. believes decision already made

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Government is preparing to lay a white paper in the National Assembly to debate the way forward for the sugar industry. However, Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo has implied that his party is not interested in the document since it believes that the Government has already made its decision.

The Head of State during his opening remarks at the Region Five Exposition and Trade Fair on Saturday (April 15, 2017), noted that the sugar industry has been contracting, but his administration is working to preserve the industry. “That is why there’ll be a Blairmont, that is why there is going to be an Albion, and we’ll preserve as many of our plantations and Estate as possible. Uitvlugt will remain,” he told persons gathered at the Bath Settlement Community Centre Ground.

Speaking to media operatives today (Thursday, April 20, 2017), Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, noted that financial and technical evidence presented, “basically is saying that it is feasible to amalgamate some estates and factories where it is appropriate for better utilisation for the nation’s resources.” He did not provide the details of whom the government sought financial and technical evidence from.

He added that “secondly, it points to the requirement for divestment of some of these facilities and thirdly, it speaks to utilizing some of the facilities of these estates, particularly the land to invite sugar workers and cane farmers to undertake agro-based activities on these lands that will become available as a result of that.”

Minister of State, Joseph Harmon during April 20, 2017, Press Briefing; Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo during April 18, 2017, Press Briefing

During a recent Press Conference, Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo noted that the paper will only be “tabled for information, not for debate because the President has already announced what is going to happen.”

The presentation and potential debate of the document followed consultation hosted earlier this year with the Opposition and Unions representing sugar workers.

While the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) submitted its proposal which was endorsed by the National Association of Agricultural, Commercial and Industrial Employees (NAACIE), the Peoples Progressive Party said it was not prepared to make its recommendations until the Government had presented a socio-economic study and an economic feasibility study.

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