Ramjattan sees parallel between PPP’s stance on sugar workers and PNCR Chairman’s position on jobs for supporters
Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan on Thursday stopped short of accusing the opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) of seeking to secure the jobs of Indo-Guyanese in much the same way that People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) Chairman, Volda Lawrence had promised to give jobs to her party’s supporters.
“Volda made a statement recently that she’ll get some employment for her people. You want to say that that is wrong but when you state all the time that you got to employ sugar workers, you got to employ sugar workers that is not wrong. That is not jobs for the boys? Oh! That is not jobs for the boys. If it is anything it is also jobs for the boys. You want us to employ your people because you are very strong in the sugar estate areas and we must pump more, we must pump more. No! We will certainly have to bring it to an end,” he said.
Lawrence has since apologised to those who have felt offended by her remarks at the November 25, 2018 Region Four PNCR District Conference. She had been heard telling party members that they should not be afraid to award contracts and hire PNCR members and that her friends are PNC and only party members would get jobs.
Ramjattan called on the PPP not to seek to score political points because of a “certain statement” while demanding that government employ and spend more on the sugar industry.
In debating the 2019 National Budget, Ramjattan flayed the PPP for objecting to the coalition government’s decision to layoff thousands of sugar workers as part of efforts to right-size the state-owned Guyana Sugar Corporation that had been draining the national treasury of billions of dollars annually.
“They give the impression to deal with this emotion and bias and discrimination as if we, here, never loved sugar workers and that we fool them…food for the base but let me remind members here that indeed from when we started in the administration every month for 36 months Guysuco wanted 1 billion dollars to bail out sugar and we gave it to them and when we gave it to them we started getting criticism that there was no other people in this country,” said Ramjattan who is also Chairman of the Alliance For Change.
Ramjattan contended that the PPP could not have closed down some estates although it was well-known that sugar would have been no longer profitable due to Europe’s scrapping of preferential prices for the sweetener. He noted that Guysuco lost almost US$40 million annually between 2010 and 2014.
He accused the PPP of spouting “inflamed rhetoric” by falsely linking the closure of Skeldon, Rose Hall-Canje, Enmore-East Demerara and Wales sugar estates with increased suicide and domestic violence.
“This is the trouble so you cannot go and link it to say that because the sugar industry had reform and right-size that that is what caused it…so when you are giving the impression here that suicide rates started high as a result of the sugar industry having right-sized,” he said.
The Public Security Minister produced official figures to show a decline rather than an increase in suicides over the past several years.