Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha has responded to former President, David Granger’s assertion that the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C)’s promise to reopen sugar estates is “fake news”.
Granger recently, on an A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) live programme, labelled the PPP/C’s move as “fake news”.
But Mustapha said that the promise made was genuine, and Granger’s condemnation is geared at securing “cheap political points”.
“[A]t the PPP/C level as well as at the level of the Ministry of Agriculture, we have “Real News” for Mr. Granger. We will stick to our commitment and promise made to the People of Guyana to reopen the Sugar Estates that were closed by the APNU/AFC Government even though they promised to keep it alive in their 2015 campaign. Agriculture will continue to be a main contributor to Guyana’s Economy,” the minister said.
While recognising the challenges that have arisen from the COVID-19 pandemic, the minister said that his ministry will operate within the necessary regulations and restrictions to ensure that the plans are rolled out.
“I must emphasize to the sugar workers that our government is working around the clock to reverse this bankrupt economy that was handed to us. I wish to reiterate the fact that within the last five years, we saw gruelling losses in the sugar industry. Four sugar estates were closed and over 7,500 persons were displaced. Thousands of other persons lost their livelihoods while these factories suffered damages that will take dedication and determination to repair,” he said.
Mustapha called on Guyanese to not “fall prey to the ‘fake news’ coming from the APNU/AFC camp but to have some patience and confidence” in the PPP/C administration.
He added that the Ministry of Agriculture will pursue areas of diversification that would bring back the jobs lost, expand employment opportunities, and re-create wealth in affected communities.
“Our President stated publicly that we will work to bring back economic life to the businesses, specifically, and the community of Wales. Also, the Ministry of Agriculture has set up a team to examine areas of support to families through targeted interventions during the transitional phase. The team is also expected shortly to meet with executives from various farmers’ groups, the Guyana Agriculture Workers’ Union (GAWU) and other stakeholders,” he said.
Mustapha said that a new Board of Directors to oversee the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) will be appointed, along with a reshuffling of the management of the Corporation.
“This is a part of the comprehensive plan of action and this is not ‘fake news’,” the Minister said.