THERE is a great outcry because NICIL has been flooding the Success GuySuCo lands on which squatters have opportunistically taken up residence, despite knowing that the lands were privately owned and that squatting is prohibited by law.
The squatters have cited no jobs and single mothers with many children and that Guyana has vast expanses of land, as justification why they should not be removed.
From the look of things, taking up abode more inland would have been far less problematic, if their contention is that Guyana has great expanses of land.
Our indigenous people have been sustaining themselves for centuries off the land, as have our farmers in other remote regions of Guyana — Black Bush Polder, for instance; but they are inhibiting government’s plans for the resuscitation of the sugar industry. What gives them that right to inhibit thousands of families from benefitting from government’s turnaround plans for sugar?
They could farm and sustain themselves if they had gone inland, and even market their produce, but they have been politically encouraged to usurp the lands earmarked for progressive endeavours that would benefit thousands of sugar workers.
Which government would put its developmental plans indefinitely on hold for a few dozens of disgruntled people who consciously chose to heed the encouragement of political protagonists of the current government and peremptorily engage in illegal property acquisition?
During colonial times factories were built in this country to process the sugar, from which many other industries evolved. However, in the approximate 400 hundred years of sugar production, this country had been confined to producing raw sugar, which has considerably constrained Guyana’s sugar earnings.
The PPP/C administrations had always envisaged an independent Guyana as exploring diversification options for the sugar industry, but this did not fructify until the newly installed PPP/C government began planning, since 1992, to make the industry a complex, instead of merely a producer of raw sugar so that the earnings and benefits of sugar workers could increase in tandem with the increased market-share and profitability of value-added sugar products.
The news and trends in the global marketplace had prepared the Jagdeo-led government of earlier years to lose the European preferential market, although they did not anticipate that it would happen so quickly, which sent the sector reeling from the shockwaves. However, the then government had already been strategising on ways to modernise the industry, which culminated in, among other initiatives, the new factory at Skeldon and the state-of-the-art packaging facility at Enmore.
Itemising accrual benefits that would redound to the nation from the PPP/C’s turnaround plan for sugar, one needs to be cognisant of electricity being generated at the Skeldon factory, with anticipated projects including other specialities, such as refined sugar. There was also the hope and expectation that other factories will also be equipped to generate electricity, and also to produce ethanol and paper to enhance income-generation and consequently boost the quality of life of sugar workers.
The Enmore sugar-packaging facility that was first commissioned in May 2011 provided assurance that the sugar industry was changing with the times, meeting the challenges and improving with the evolving dynamics and emerging challenges, and that government had made plans to ensure – unlike many other sugar industries in the Caribbean and farther afield– that the Guyana sugar industry survives long in the much distant future, that it will still be here and making a great contribution to our country for generations to come.
Sugar workers have played a great role in keeping the industry going, even in the face of great odds and constraints.
The spurious contentions of political antagonists that the Irfaan Ali government is only strategising to turn the industry around because the affected communities are enclaves of PPP supporters should go to the various sugar-producing communities and listen to the cries of the sugar workers and their families who have lost jobs and their sustainable lifestyles because of sugar estate closures, and they will then realise that hundreds of coalition supporters are also suffering because of sugar estate closures.
But this is a moot plank on which to base their insistence that sugar is not viable to sustain, because many factors have be taken into consideration, and a major one is that it is Guyanese lives that have been jeopardised and Guyanese children who are suffering because of the previous government’s decision to demolish the industry. The current government is struggling valiantly to ensure that sugar production once again picks up steam and realise the dreams and hopes of future generations of Guyanese
The restoration of the Enmore packaging plant is a major facilitating mechanism structured into the blueprint of turning GuySuCo and the sugar industry into an enduring, profitable complex that will, in accrual stages, benefit the entire nation in a multiplicity of ways, similar to the time when the punitive sugar levy sustained the bauxite industry and the public service and joint services sectors.