Closure of the Rose Hall and Enmore sugar factories and several cultivations by the end of this year has been proposed by the government, according to the PPP which says it will not support these moves.
In a statement yesterday it lambasted the government for what it said was its high-handed approach in dealing with the sugar industry.
The PPP said that its participation in the Stakeholder Forum is to ensure the survival of the sugar industry.
It said that it has already expressed its concern in relation to the lack of information and pertinent studies, documents and analyses to aid its work in the Stakeholders Forum. It cited the absence of an economic feasibility study and a social impact assessment or a serious diversification plan to support the government’s position.
“Government’s callous decisions, which have already seen the closure of Wales Estate and the devastation of more than seventeen hundred (1700) families directly and thousands of other families indirectly, does not have our support.
“The cruelty of the Government is demonstrated by the treatment meted to the workers of Wales Estate. Having closed the industry without any consultations with the workers or their Union, the APNU+AFC Government had refused to comply with the Severance Pay Act”, the PPP contended.
Further, it said that the “lame” excuse given by the government for abandoning the first crop of Skeldon is a smoke-screen for its hidden agenda “which includes inflating the cost of fixing the boiler as an excuse to privatise Skeldon. The absence of this first crop is going to create untold hardships for thousands of workers and the many private cane farmers who would have invested heavily based on the Skeldon operation”, the PPP lamented.
The Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) said in a release this week that it was informed by the Skeldon Energy Inc. (SEI) that the co-generation plant at Skeldon was unsafe to operate.
It also advised the corporation that “the First Crop 2017 should no longer take place as up to seven months were required to address the problem.”
The release said too: “Over the years, the co-generation plant has suffered serious deterioration. This was confirmed by a recent audit. The plant became progressively unreliable, adversely affecting the operations of the sugar factory and resulting in reduced sugar production and less power for the national grid.”
As a result, the corporation said “it is with great regret” that it “announces that sugar production at the Skeldon Estate is suspended. Every effort will be made by SEI to have the cogeneration plant back in operation by late August.”
The PPP said yesterday that the decision to close factories at the end of this year were arrived at by the Government without an understanding of the social and economic impact they would have on the thousands of families directly and indirectly.
“The devastating effect on the communities, the Region and the national economy as a whole are totally ignored. For the PPP, the livelihood of people, sustainability of communities and the well-being of the national economy, are paramount in any decision we make. Just a glance at our record on how we saved the bauxite industry and sustained those communities in Region 10 provides an example of a PPP Government that cared, and was concerned about people’s welfare.
“We wish to reiterate that the PPP will not be supporting the closure of any estate or sugar cane cultivation. The refusal of government to complete these essential studies leads us to believe that the decision is based solely in politics and directed to PPP’s supporters”, the party added.