Government to Delay Closure of Two Sugar Estates

Joseph Harmon

Harmon Says System Not Yet in Place to Deal with Affected Workers

GEORGETOWN, Guyana – The Guyana government says plans to close two sugar estates will most likely take place next year since a system has not yet been put in place to deal with the affected workers.

The government had earlier announced that the state-owned Guyana Sugar Corporation (GUYSUCO) would be moving to close the Rose Hall sugar estate in Berbice and Enmore estate by the end of 2017.

However, speaking at a news conference, Minister of State Joseph Harmon, said the David Granger government was committed to ensuring that the best interest of the sugar workers is taken into consideration before decisions are made regarding the sector.

He said that the National Industrial & Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL), Special Purpose Unit (SPU) processes, which involve valuation, surveys, inventorying and other assessments of the sugar industry are still to be completed.

“You cannot just bring something to an end and not have something in place to take it up,” he said.

The Private Sector Commission (PSC) has in the past indicated an interest in purchasing the Enmore estate and Harmon said all proposals will be analysed by the SPU, then at an appropriate time, a response will be provided.

The Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAGWU) has been pressing the government to delay the closure of the estate, fearing the effect the closure will have on the community and Harmon gave the assurance that severance will be paid to the sugar workers, where necessary, since, “the welfare of the workers is the primary consideration of this administration and we will not see workers put on the breadline in that manner, without some recourse.”

The GUY$130 million SPU was established in July 2017 to manage the divestment of the Skeldon Factory and other GUYSUCO assets. – CMC