President assures Enterprise residents of sugar industry’s viability under PPP
Georgetown, GINA, October 18, 2011
Source - GINA
President Bharrat Jagdeo speaking to residents of Enterprise, East Coast Demerara during an elections meeting
The ruling People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) continued its campaign trail to national elections with a street corner meeting this evening at Enterprise, East Coast Demerara where President Bharrat Jagdeo assured residents that the sugar industry will remain viable under the incumbent administration.
Despite intermittent showers residents turned out in their numbers to listen to the Head of State as he addressed them at the Khaleel Bridge junction of the village on the sugar industry, Government’s vision for Guyana, the opposition’s agenda and Guyana’s volatile political history.
“Let me make one thing clear… the PPP’s commitment to sugar has been and will always be unshakeable and this is why when we faced significant hardships… we said we are going to make this industry viable,” President Jagdeo said.
Among the “significant hardships,” President Jagdeo chronicled were pressures from the Alliance for Change (AFC) the defunct People’s National Congress (PNC), and Ravi Dev for government to relinquish the sugar industry.
This he said was coupled with the inevitably high cost of production and the European Union’s (EU) 36% price cut that resulted in Guyana losing $9B in revenue per-annum from the industry.
Signs of languishing sugar industries around the world including in the Caribbean were also evident and President Jagdeo told the Enterprise residents that, APNU if put in office will disengage from sugar.
“Many from the opposition think that sugar workers don’t have the vision. They say bad things about sugar workers but they don’t know that these are some of the most forward looking, resilient people,” President Jagdeo said.
President Bharrat Jagdeo interacting with residents of Enterprise, East Coast Demerara after a meeting
“In 2008, the Government made the largest historic investment in the sugar industry with the commissioning of the $185M Skeldon Sugar factory which incorporates some of the best technologies in sugar manufacturing to reduce production cost, improve sugar quality and operational efficiency.
It was done at a time when Barbados, St. Kitts and neighbouring Trinidad and Tobago backed away from sugar resulting in workers being laid off, some without severance pay. In May this year a US$12.5M packaging plant at Enmore was commissioned.
The sugar industry contributes 16 percent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and is the means of livelihood for about 17 percent of Guyana’s population which directly or indirectly depend on the commodity.
President Jagdeo however shared government’s vision for the sugar industry to move in a sophisticated direction where operations are mechanized and manual labour is miniscule.
A section of the gathering at the Enterprise, East Coast Demerara meeting where President Bharrat Jagdeo attended
“The industry itself we have to mechanise… so our sugar workers now have to be retrained to use machinery,” President Jagdeo said.
He did however acknowledge some of the challenges workers face with their National Insurance Scheme (NIS) benefits and spoke of plans to computerise the scheme to correct the situation.
He also shared his vision for the Information Communication Technology (ICT) sector that is rapidly emerging in Guyana and realizing the dream of conducting business from the comfort of one’s home.
He told the gathering of his confidence about PPP/C winning over Region Four at this year’s elections.