The European Union Ambassador to Guyana, Jernej Videtič has taken umbrage to statements made by former President Donald Ramotar, and in a statement on Monday cleared the EU of any blame for setbacks in Guyana’s sugar industry.
The EU over the years has supported the industry with financial aid through an agreement with the Guyana government.
The Ambassador referred to a letter dated October 20 in which Mr. Ramotar claimed that the EU did not deliver the €25 million that Guyana had earned and had an agreement on.
In clarifying the statement, Mr. Videtič said “it was the previous government of Guyana that did not deliver on the terms of the agreement with the EU, including by making little progress in public finance management reforms and by effectively suspending parliamentary oversight of the budget through the prorogation of the parliament.”
He said it must be remembered that these funds are European citizen’s taxes, and “we have a duty to carefully ensure all of our criteria are met before any funds can be released.”
The EU envoy acknowledged that Guyana’s National Assembly is now sitting and parliamentary oversight is again in place; reiterating the EU’s commitment to working closely with the Government to reestablish eligibility criteria to bring these budget support programmes back on track.
Mr Ramotar also implied that the sugar industry’s difficulties were caused “by the changed trading arrangement of the European Union”.
To this end, the Ambassador said “I would like to note that the EU sugar regime was changed not due to a unilateral decision by the EU, but due to a ruling by the World Trade Organisation.”
In order to mitigate the effects of this ruling the European Union has given over $ 26 billion to Guyana to restructure its sugar industry.
“The European Union has been a strong and reliable partner of Guyana for over forty years, and will continue to be in the future,” Ambassador Videtič added. The local sugar industry has performed outstanding in recent months, breaking several production records.
Earlier this year, the EU announced that it was putting a hold to the projects after then President Ramotar prorogued the parliament allowing no oversight for the projects.
Mr. Ramotar was ousted from Government following the May 11 elections.
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