The PPP/C Government is continuing to show that it cares for sugar workers, and on Thursday, approved a whopping $3,888,558,690 to support a one-off grant to severed sugar workers and out-of-crop support for persons in the sugar sector.
The $3.8 billion is now part of the Supplementary Appropriation Bill No.2 of 2021.
Rising in the Committee of Supply of the National Assembly and championing the cause of the sugar workers, was Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha, MP, who said majority of the money is to cater for persons who were made redundant by the former administration, when they closed sugar estates and factories.
Some 5,263 severed workers have received $250,000 from the government, to help cushion the effects of the loss of income.
This means $1,315,570,000 have been issued directly to sugar workers, immediately giving them more disposable income.
Additionally, Minister Mustapha said, “We also gave $2,355,800,000 for out-of-crop support to the Guyana Sugar Corporation. An additional $236,989, 261 has been allocated to D&I (Drainage and Irrigation) to provide services to the farmers of our country, to enhance food security and enhance our D&I system.”
Money has also been procured to cover the purchase of fuel and lubricants, for pensions and essential parts and materials for the underserviced sugar factories.
“When we took over last year, GuySuCo was in need of critical support both capital and in the field. Because the capacity of GuySuCo was just around 40 per cent we have since re-capitalised a number of areas in GuySuCo including factories and fields. And as it stands today, we are over 50 per cent of that work and that will continue over the years to ensure that we bring GuySuCo to a break-even point or eventually bring it to profitability.”
Minister Mustapha noted that the government recognises the importance of GuySuCo being the single largest employer in the country and the economic benefits to the country.
One of the first decisions the PPP/C took upon returning to government, was to reopen the shuttered estates and factories, breathing life into communities that became depressed after their closure.
However, Wales Sugar Estate remains closed due to the factory being defunct, resulting from poor management.
With the reopening of the estates, 1,200 persons were able to return to work.
The $3.8 billion was eventually approved, but not without stiff criticisms from the Parliamentary Opposition. It is now a part of Financial Paper No.2 and the Supplementary Appropriation Bill, which is asking for $26.5 billion.
Earlier in June, $1.5 billion in supplementary funds was allocated to GuySuCo for critical capital works.