As the opposition People’s Progressive Party, prepares to reject the Government’s White Paper on the future of the sugar industry, former Cabinet Secretary and PPP Executive, Dr. Roger Luncheon believes the government should refer to the Party’s 2015 manifesto, if it is serious about salvaging the industry.
The Government intends to lay the document and subsequently debate its position on the state of the industry at the May 8th sitting of the National Assembly. But ahead of that sitting, Dr. Luncheon is insisting that “not only is sugar too big to fail but what needs to be done can be done.”
The PPP had proposed to invest some US$20 million in the ailing sugar industry among other fixes in the run up to the 2015 elections. “We have pointed out how easy it is to fix. The manifesto of the PPP in 2015 has the answers,” Dr. Luncheon said.
He believes that the administration has decided on a course of action that will inevitably lead to a closure of the industry.
“This administration has decided it is not going to save the sugar industry and has decided on a course of action, a course of action that the PPP stands resolutely against,” he added.
The government has said that the laying of the white paper in the National Assembly is another attempt at basically engaging all stakeholders in an important decision that has to be made on the sugar industry.
But the PPP has already taken a decision that it will not support the document which addresses the feasibility of amalgamating some of the sugar estates and factories where appropriate, the requirement for divestment of some facilities, and the utilisation of some of the facilities of the estates, particularly the land, for sugar workers and cane farmers to undertake agro-based activities.
The government had said repeatedly that, whatever the course of action it intends to take, the sugar industry is not being closed down.
State Minister Joseph Harmon explained recently that based on the financial and economic realities, the government has to make some adjustments to the industry. “These adjustments are what are going to come before the National Assembly in the form of the White Paper,” Minister Harmon explained.
The draft White Paper on the sugar industry’s future was submitted by Minister of Agriculture Noel Holder to Cabinet for its consideration.
The White Paper follows a process of overhauling of the industry which includes a Commission of Inquiry into GuySuCo, the subsequent setting up of a special Task Force to look at options, on the way forward for the sugar company, and thereafter, presenting these options to the government.