A meeting between the government and stakeholders in the sugar industry has resulted in the government encouraging the parliamentary opposition and sugar unions to make their own recommendations about the future of sugar in Guyana.
Yesterday, a government team met representatives from the parliamentary opposition, the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo), the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers’ Union (GAWU) and the National Association of Agricultural, Commercial and Industrial Employees (NAACIE), to begin consultations to determine a way forward for the sugar industry.
The meeting which was held in the boardroom of the Ministry of Agriculture saw government providing the opposition and unions with several requested documents, which are expected to inform their recommendations. According to a release from the Ministry of the Presidency, a date and time for the next meeting will be determined after the opposition and unions would have had time to peruse the documents.
The release also stated that at the end of the meeting, all parties “expressed their satisfaction on the move by the government to hold consultations and the proceedings of the initial meeting.”
GAWU Head Komal Chand was said to have expressed satisfaction that government has not yet made a decision about the industry and was instead engaging in a process which allows for the union to participate.
“We were assured by the government delegation that what they have are mere proposals and the proposals are for discussions and it is not a case where decisions are made and we are going through an exercise and that is satisfactory to us. We recognise that consultations have taken place and we take fact that the proposals are not final. That is acceptable to us,” he was quoted as saying.
Chand was part of a delegation which included head of NAACIE Kenneth Joseph and representatives from various sugar estates including Wales, Albion, Skeldon, Enmore and Uitvlugt.
The People’s Progressive Party/Civic’s delegation was led by General Secretary Clement Rohee and included Members of Parliament Irfaan Ali, Dharamkumar Seeraj and Juan Edghill.
The statement also credited Rohee with having expressed gratitude for government’s invitation to engage in the consultations since it is the livelihood of thousands of Guyanese that will be affected by any outcome.
Meanwhile Vice President and Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan who led the government team explained, “Cabinet took the decision at its last sitting, to have the consultations begin at the soonest possible time,” the release said.
He was said to have stated that consultations were being conducted to ensure that the best interest of all stakeholders will be considered and that this first meeting was very civilized. He noted that stakeholders requested time to study the documents which was agreed. “…They have asked for some additional reports and studies as to what made GuySuCo come to the decision and to set out these options. I agree with them because they must have source documents and so it is important that they be part and parcel of the decision-making or at least know how we are thinking and that is important. I am very pleased with the entirety of the meeting,” he was quoted as saying.
Other members of the government team were Minister of State Joseph Harmon, Minister of Agriculture Noel Holder, Minister of Social Protection Volda Lawrence, Minister of Natural Resources Raphael Trotman, Minister of Business Dominic Gaskin and Minister within the Ministry of Finance Jaipaul Sharma.