Can the Government of Guyana and the Ministry of Social Cohesion please explain how the present, imminent and future closure of sugar estates which are severely affecting the livelihoods and financial survival of working families of all ethnicities and their dependents but predominately those of East Indian descent, are
helping to forge social cohesion. I have been told that as a result of the closure of Wales Estate, school attendance at nearby schools has been affected as some families are in deep financial distress. To any sensible, honest and non-racial citizen, such actions must be known to be unduly affecting one particular ethnic group disproportionally. To add salt to the wound, the seemingly uncaring way in which the closure of working sugar estates has been taking place is unacceptable and seriously discredits the APNU+AFC’s rhetoric about social cohesion.
Such actions have been taken without an independent survey and social and financial audit to assess the impact of the closure of sugar estates not only on sugar workers (field, factory, administration, etc) and their families directly, but on the many other small and micro businesses which depend on the wages of sugar workers and estate business for their own survival. This is not a reflection of a caring government which is genuine about social cohesion, social justice and the well-being of its citizens. There was enough time for the APNU+AFC to have conducted an audit and impact survey as millions of Guyanese dollars were found and made available to conduct forensic audits on state agencies.
Let us be clear, the failure of GuySuCo is not the fault of sugar workers, so why are they being forced to bear the brunt of the mismanagement of the sugar industry while present and past GuySuCo Board members and senior managers continue to enjoy comfortable and financially secure lifestyles.
The APNU+AFC government actions, strategy and policy on the fate of sugar workers in Guyana can only be perceived to be anti-working class and does not bode well for improving ethnic relations, forging social cohesion and improving workers’ rights and fundamental freedoms. Where are the voices of ministers of government and parliamentarians who have spent decades professing solidarity and defence of the working class. They can’t talk out of both sides of their mouths at the same time and be credible.