Rethink closure of sugar estates – PSC urges Gov’t
The Private Sector Commission (PSC) says it continues to be dismayed at the Government’s decision to pursue the closure of sugar estates as the only solution to the crisis in the sugar industry.
A statement from the PSC on Wednesday, December 20, 2017, noted that in August of this year, it proposed to the Government that they enter into a public-private partnership for investment in and management of selected estates as a probable and effective alternative to closure.
“Indeed, it was our clear understanding, at a meeting the Commission held with Mr Colvin Heath-London of NICIl, that the Government had determined to pursue such an option,” the PSC noted.
According to the private body, sugar has been the major employer of Guyanese for over a century and, until these drastic measures were taken, continued to be the largest employer of our labour force.
“Yet, unbelievably, our Government has no definitive plan to rescue the industry nor save its workers from unemployment and from the ensuing hardship which will inevitably result.
“While the decision to close has been announced, we are again asking our Government to recognise the ensuing hardships placed on the communities served by and dependent on sugar and the consequential damage to the economy as a whole. We ask once more that our Government should think again,” the statement concluded.
The Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) will send home an estimated 3, 500 workers by the end of the year as part of plans to restructure the sugar industry. The decision represents the largest retrenchment by any corporation, public or private, in recent history.
The government had pledged to unveil a diversification plan to ensure continued employment for workers being sent home, but no major effort has materialised.
By the end of the year, estates at Rose Hall, Skeldon, Wales and Enmore would cease operations. Only three estates are being kept in operation – at Albion in East Berbice, Blairmont in West Berbice and Uitvlugt on the West Coast of Demerara.