Gov’t meetings with sugar workers a “PR exercise”- Jagdeo


Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo has deemed meetings hosted by Government ministers across the “sugar-belt” on Friday (January 26, 2018) as a Public Relations exercise.

Prime Minister, Moses Nagamootoo;  Ministers of Agriculture, Telecommunications, Public Security, Business and Ministers within the Ministry of Natural Resources and Finance visited the Skeldon community center ground, the Welfare East Canje community center ground and the Enmore community Center on Friday to speak with retrenched sugar workers.

At a press conference on Saturday, January 27, 2018, at his Church Street office, the Opposition Leader said nothing new was told to the workers during those visits.

“One has to question the usefulness of these meetings. They went to Skeldon, Rose Hall and Enmore and none of the issues which were raised by the team –large team that went to the estates, was anything new or brought any further benefits to the sugar workers,” Jagdeo noted.

He alluded to comments made by Prime Minister Nagamootoo that the Government is not closing down the sugar estates, noting that similar promises were made prior to the 2015 General and Regional Elections.

“They could’ve easily paid the 1,000 workers their full severance. What he didn’t say to the workers is that the Government is withholding half of the severance for sugar workers which is payable by law, but now they are making the sugar workers practically beg for their severance that they’re due by law,” he said.

Referring to the Business, Financial and Investment Forums and Clinics for ex-employees of GuySuCo to be hosted in the coming week, Jagdeo said the severance to be received by the workers will just be as much for the workers to sustain their families in the coming months, leaving little for investments. He referred to the planned meetings as “desperation.”

“If a worker will get $500,000 each, that’s about five months of eating…to upkeep their family…how they (Government) hosting a conference with the Private sector on how they (sugar workers) should invest their $500,000 in severance, that’s the people’s money. This is desperation and it’s ridiculous,” Jagdeo said.

The forums form part of its ‘Economic Resilience’ component of its ‘Sustainable Communities Programme’ for the sugar-dependent communities in the vicinity of Skeldon, Rose Hall, Enmore and Wales Estates. The focus at the forums will be opportunities in investment, to purchase bonds and shares, banking services such as fixed deposits, business ventures, insurance, medical and pension packages among others.

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