Leader of the Opposition Bharrat Jagdeo has stepped up his criticism of the government for announcing the closure of the Wales estate and he intends to reach out to the government on the issue even as he is concerned that the administration is not taking the recommendations from its own Commission of Inquiry report into the sugar industry.
That report was completed just a few weeks ago and laid in the National Assembly. It recommends that there should be no closure of any of any of the sugar estates since the economic impact on sugar workers could be far-reaching.
Mr. Jagdeo said he finds it strange to understand the reason behind the government not accepting the recommendations of the Commission that it constituted.
At a Freedom House press conference on Wednesday morning, the Opposition Leader said “this was the government that was waiting for advice from these technical people and have suddenly moved away from the recommendation of this sacred report that they were awaiting for such a long time”.
Jagdeo said by throwing out the recommendation not to close estates, the government must now throw out the entire report since it ought not to pick and choose which recommendations it embraces and which ones it does not.
He said the sugar industry could still be turned around and the government should allow that opportunity. However, when pressed about why his former government which enjoyed 23 years in office did not do more to salvage the industry, Mr. Jagdeo said work was being done and implemented.
Under the PPP government, there were several recommendations to close the Wales estate because it was operating at a huge loss. The government has said it would need to pump at least $2 Billion into the Wales estate for it to survive this year.
Jagdeo still believes that the aim of the government is designed to hurt areas where the PPP got great support during the last elections, even as he admitted that the coalition probably pulled close to 30% of the votes in the community.
The government has rubbished Jagdeo’s critcism and has pointed out that the move is based solely on economics. Agriculture Minister, Noel Holder, has announced that the workers will be transferred to the Uitvlugt and it is only the factory that will be closed while the farmlands will remain open.
The sugar industry has been propped up by the government for several years in spite of the gloomy outlook facing the sector. Already, the government has announced that it intends to pump $12 billion into the industry in 2016.