PPP will stick to promise to reopen sugar estates – Agri Minister

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Below is a statement from Minister of Agriculture Zulfikar Mustapha

The Former President has jumped on board the bandwagon along with a few others to score cheap political points by telling his supporters that the PPP/C’s plans and commitments to reopen the sugar estates is “Fake News”.

However, at the PPP/C level as well as at the level of the Ministry of Agriculture, we have “Real News” for Mr. Granger. We will stick to our commitment and promise made to the People of Guyana to reopen the Sugar Estates that were closed by the APNU/AFC Government even though they promised to keep it alive in their 2015 campaign. Agriculture will continue to be a main contributor to Guyana’s Economy.

At this point in time, we are faced with the COVID-19 Pandemic and must adhere to all protocols, however, we will operate within the necessary regulations and restrictions to ensure that the plans are rolled out. I must emphasize to the sugar workers that our government is working around the clock to reverse this bankrupt economy that was handed to us.

I wish to reiterate the fact that within the last five years, we saw grueling losses in the sugar industry. Four sugar estates were closed and over 7,500 persons were displaced. Thousands of other persons lost their livelihoods while these factories suffered damages that will take dedication and determination to repair. The people in the sugar belts depend on these estates for their livelihood and our dedicated team is working around the clock to ensure that all is in place for a smooth reopening. We and the workers are well aware that this will not happen at the click of a finger but it will take time. I take this opportunity to implore on those persons who are waiting the reopening, not to fall prey to the “fake news” coming from the APNU/AFC camp but to have some patience and confidence in our team.

The former President said that he is yet to see the PPP’s Manifesto. We don’t blame him, he is still yet to see his own SoP’s from the 2020 elections since he made it public that he hasn’t see those as well. And, honestly, that is no fault of the PPP/C or the Ministry of Agriculture.

But allow me to shed some light on the situation. The Ministry of Agriculture will pursue areas of diversification that would bring back the jobs lost, expand employment opportunities, and re-create wealth in these communities.  Our President stated publicly that we will work to bring back economic life to the businesses, specifically, and the community of Wales. Also, the Ministry of Agriculture has set up a team to examine areas of support to families through targeted interventions during the transitional phase. The team is also expected shortly to meet with executives from various farmers’ groups, the Guyana Agriculture Workers’ Union (GAWU) and other stakeholders.

Let me remind the former President that it was during his tenure that the Special Purpose Unit (SPU) was preparing to sell off these estates to the best bidder. My Ministry will ensure that all of these processes are stopped immediately that the lands be used for the benefits of the people of this country. Also, we will work with NICIL to revoke any land handouts during the illegal tenure of the former President and have those lands reinstated to the Guyana Sugar Corporation.

The Ministry of Agriculture will appoint a new Board of Directors to oversee the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) and there will be a reshuffling of the management of the Corporation. This is a part of the comprehensive plan of action and this is not “Fake News”.

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