Ex-sugar workers praise Govt

-as $250,000 cash grant distribution begins in Region Six

Government on Sunday, commenced its $250,000 one-off cash grant distribution exercise to severed sugar workers in East Berbice-Corentyne (Region Six).

Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha, MP, distributing cash grants on Sunday.

Some $675 million in cash grants were distributed in the ancient county, with 2,660 ex-sugar workers benefitting.

Kowsilla Ramotar of East Canje, Berbice was among the hundreds who braved the inclement weather to receive her cheque.

“I will have a wonderful Christmas! my children will have a nice Christmas!” Ramotar exclaimed, as she happily waved her hand while speaking to DPI. The woman recalled being without a job for over three years after she was laid off.

Senior Minister in the office of the President with responsibility for finance, Dr. Ashni Singh, MP, distributing cash grants on Sunday.

Another beneficiary, Asmon Frank is certain of having a secured home in time for Christmas. Frank told DPI that his house is in dire need of repairs and the cash will help to facilitate the process.

“Right now, the house top is falling off, so I will now be able to buy couple sheets of zinc. Since I change this cheque, I will buy somethings and fix my house properly,” Frank said.

For Azad Hussain, receiving the assistance from government is a “great feeling.” Prior to 2018, Hussain worked at the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) for over 20 years and was on his ‘annual leave’ when he received the message of losing his job.

Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha, MP, assisting one of the severed sugar workers.

While Hussain was lucky to find employment elsewhere after months of being at home, he said the experience was challenging, “because I was in sugar for all my life, all I know is sugar, so I thank the government for this good gesture.”

At the Welfare Center Ground in Rose Hall, East Canje, almost $225 million in grants were disbursed to 860 ex- sugar workers, while another 1,800 received cheques valued $450 million, at the Skeldon Community Center Ground.

Addressing the gathering, Senior Minister in the office of the President with responsibility for finance, Dr. Ashni Singh, M.P, said the one-off transfer of $250,000 is a direct follow up to the commitment made by Vice President (VP), Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo.

Beneficiary, Asmon Frank

Some 7,500 Guyanese were placed on the breadline following the estates’ closure.

Dr. Singh said the move by the former APNU+AFC Government to shutter the sugar factories was callous and unconscionable.

“The cruelty that was inflicted and the damage that was done to individual households and individual families, some of that damage we may never be able to repair,” Minister Singh stressed.

Also spearheading the exercise, Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha, M.P, said the money serves as a direct benefit to hundreds of families.

“This is your money, use it wisely, use it to benefit your family, use it to benefit your community and your region, so when the money is circulated, everyone will benefit from that. That’s how we as a government work.”

Beneficiary, Kowsilla Ramotar

Minister Mustapha said the PPP/C while in opposition, promised to reopen the sugar estates, ensuring the livelihood of the sugar workers was secure.

“Our government will work with each and every one of you to restore your livelihood. We said we will reopen the closed estates, work has already begun to get the process going, we are aggressively moving. Rose Hall will be one of the first estates,” the minister said.

Both ministers noted that government’s commitment does not stop at the cash grants. Altogether, some $1.3 billion will be exhausted during the distribution exercise.