‘Santa Claus stayed home, the Grinch has visited’ – Dr Persaud says of sugar workers’ plight


By Devina Samaroo

Alluding to the loss of employment of thousands of sugar workers this holiday season, Opposition Member of Parliament Dr Vindhya Persaud concluded that “Santa Claus has stayed home and the Grinch has visited.”

Dr Persaud, during her contribution to the 2018 budget debates in the National Assembly on Wednesday, described the 2018 Budget as “a fusion of scrooge-ee-nish and Grinch-ism,” contending that it lacks measures to support vulnerable sections of society including women, children and the disabled.

The Parliamentarian addressed the issue of the “relentless onslaught” of the sugar industry as she quizzed the administration about its plans for those who will be displaced and the families who are now uncertain about their future.

“I would like to see alternative plans for the sugar industry,” she stated, suggesting that perhaps the opposition may need to guide the government in the right direction.

Dr Persaud, based on her scrutiny of the budget, said there seems to be no social security net for those families who will need major support as the restructuring of the sugar industry intensifies.

She also questioned why the government reached out to the miners to bring them relief but refused to listen to the cries of those on the sugar belt.

“I think the government ministers need to come out of their high towers and talk to people,” she stated.

Dr Persaud suggested that perhaps more people need to be on the streets to heighten public pressure on the government as the case with the parking meters, the taxes in the mining sector and the Value-Added Tax (VAT) on education.

She noted too that even the school system is not safe, referring to the ongoing investigation into allegations of sexual assault by a teacher who was attached to the Bishops’ High School, Coen Jackson.

The opposition parliamentarian contended that the budget has nothing of substance for women, especially single mothers, who now have to struggle to make ends meet given the increases in taxes which were introduced in last year’s budget.

She explained that, when a budget is presented during the yearend, the citizens would look forward to something that can benefit them especially given the size of the budget – which totals $267.1B.

However, Dr Persaud said people are going into the new year unhappy for the coalition has once again failed to deliver the good life for Guyanese.

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