President meets with protesting sugar workers, promises severance by year-end

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Over $7 billion in supplementary funding will be sourced next week, some of which will be used to make the outstanding severance payments to sugar workers who were retrenched last year.

Finance Minister Winston Jordan will table Finance Paper No. 3/2018 totalling $7,584,274,488 when the National Assembly reconvenes next Thursday.

President David Granger Friday afternoon, reassured a group of protesting sugar workers at Rose Hall, Berbice that the payment of outstanding severance will be settled after the supplementary budget is taken for approval, the Ministry of the Presidency (MotP) noted.

The Head-of-State made the promise after some disgruntled individuals picketed his public meeting at the Rose Hall Primary School.

The President also promised the sugar workers that his administration will be engaging their Unions to devise a plan that caters to former sugar workers who have been unable to find employment.

Approximately $1.9 billion was approved earlier this year to make a 50% payment of the severance entitled to thousands of sugar workers.

Meanwhile, President Granger also assured the protesters that the entire sugar industry will not be shut down. According to the MotP, the Head-of-State made it clear that his administration is seeking to consolidate the sector so as to ensure that it does not continue to haemorrhage the national coffers.

“We decided to reorganise the sugar industry to make it more efficient. We did not kill the sugar industry. We saved the sugar industry, we are not killing and closing the sugar industry. We are reforming it,” the Head of State is quoted as telling the protesters.

The Head of State had announced that a State Lands Sales Commission will be established to ensure there is a rational and transparent disposal of lands, which will no longer fall under the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo), taking into consideration, the dismissed sugar workers, Ministries and agencies.

“Now, as far as the closures are concerned, once an estate has been closed, the lands will now be subject to the jurisdiction of, first of all, a State Land Sales Commission, of which the SPU, the Special Purpose Unit under NICIL, will have representation. The idea is that we won’t sell off the family jewels.

“We’ll make sure that the lands, which are being taken out of sugar, are placed to the benefit of the people of Guyana as a whole. Now, several anomalies and several contradictions may emerge. For example, the Ministry of Agriculture may need some lands in order to settle sugar workers who are interested in settling,” the President stated.

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