The Committee of Supply on Tuesday approved the sum of $2B of for works at sugar estates across the country. The sum was allocated in the 2023 budget, with the consideration of estimates ongoing at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC), Liliendaal, East Coast Demerara.
The allocation was intensely scrutinised by the opposition, with the Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha painstakingly disaggregating the amount. He told the house that of the $2B, $1.195B is allocated towards the reopening of the Rose Hall Sugar Estate, which he said is on track to resume operations by the second crop of this year.
“We will see smoke out the chimney at the Rose Hall Estate this year,” Mustapha said amid cheers from his government colleagues.
He explained that the sum will be used to procure one semi-mechanical planter trailer, four fixed-frame tractors, a fertiliser applicator, a boom sprayer, 200 drain tunes, and 260 cane punts. The Minister was quick to note that the earmarked sum could have been significantly reduced if the former A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) had taken better care of the estate’s assets.
“When the former government closed the estate, they left the punts to rot. Now, we have to rebuild those punts and we’ll have to purchase 400 sling chains and five bell loaders,” he said.
He also noted that $50M will be spent on the rehabilitation of buildings and roads around the Rose Hall Estate area.
Meanwhile, the House also approved the $452M allocated to complete works at the Albion Estate. That sum will be used to purchase tractors, fertilizers applicators, and boom sprayers.
Further, the sum of $300M was approved to commence phase one of the construction of the packaging plant at Albion, with $287M allocated to procure equipment such as planting trailers, tractors and fertilizer applicators at the Blairmount Estate. The sum of $56M has also been set aside for enhancement works at the Uitvlugt Estate in Region Three.