High-level meeting set for Saturday on way forward for Wales Estate

A high- level meeting will take place on Saturday, December 31, 2016 to decide the way forward as it relates to the Wales sugar estate. This was disclosed today, by Minister of Agriculture, Noel Holder at the Ministry’s Boardroom, Regent Street and Shiv Chanderpaul Drive, Georgetown.

Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jadgeo, Minister of State Joseph Harmon, Minister of Agriculture, Noel Holder, Social Protection Minister Volda Lawrence; Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan; and Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman, as well as union representatives from the Guyana Labour Union, (GLU), Guyana Agricultural and General Workers’ Union (GAWU), and the National Association of Agricultural Commercial and Industrial Employees (NAACIE) will be present at the meeting.

Meanwhile, an estimated 100 workers from the 1000 work force there at present including the senior staff will be absorbed into the diversification project at the Wales estate. This is according Finance Director of GuySuCo, Paul Bhim. It was also pointed out that several workers have opted for severance and have already been paid.

The question was asked what will happen to the other workers as of January 2017 to which Bhim replied that, the factory workers will remain for another month because the factory needs a lot of cleaning. Bhim further explained that the cane harvesters will be transferred to other estates.

Bhim added that workers will also be offered jobs at the Wales location as part of the rice paddy project which has already begun. The Finance Director told media operatives that the rice paddy project will occupy some 220 acres of land at the Wales estate; while several other acres need to be ploughed.

It was highlighted that an aquaculture project is also in the making for the estate, however this projected has not yet been confirmed  The Finance Director said that a pre -feasibility study was done and a report was given, while the official feasibility study will take place in January of 2017.

There were also questions as to whether the LBI Estate is up for sale, to which the Finance Director replied in the negative.

Meanwhile clarification was sought as to whether the Skeldon Factory was also up for sale. Minister Holder replied by saying, “I doubt anyone in this world would ever want to buy the factory, they might want to buy the estate, but not the factory.”

Minister Holder explained that the Wales factory is the oldest in the country, and it is inefficient, hence the decision to convert it into a viable alternative. The ministry had earlier stated that the factory would require tremendous amounts of investments to rehabilitate it, investments which the government could not afford.