PPP Supports Govt’s Move to Reopen Skeldon, Enmore Sugar Estates


But Jagdeo Calls the Gov’t ‘Incompetent’ Saying it Must Admit its Blunder

GUYANA (STABROEK NEWS) — With the planned reopening of the Skeldon and Enmore sugar estates, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo on Thursday rained criticism on the David Granger-led APNU+AFC government saying that the move was reflective of their “phenomenal incompetence”.

However, the Opposition Leader says that his party will support a move to open any of the estates and government needs to admit it made a blunder in the estate closures.

“They should have never closed them in the first place and if they can reopen them that is fine with me. In fact I will support the reopening of all the estates. Why stick with these two?” Jagdeo told a press conference at his office.

Bharrat Jagdeo

Further, he added, “The government must admit it made a blunder, it treated the sugar industry in a political fashion when they should have done more technical work. We called on them to do the technical work. They never did, they made the wrong decision. Once they admit that’s fine. I think the country can forgive that. Many sugar workers might not forgive them but any form of reopening will be supported by the People’s Progressive Party.”

Stabroek News on Thursday reported that just weeks after they were shuttered, the Skeldon and Enmore estates will be reopened by the end of March and some cane cutters re-employed. The move is being made to demonstrate to potential buyers that the estates are viable and as such can be sold as going concerns, sources say.

“They are looking at the Skeldon and Enmore estates where it will be reopened so that the canes that are there now can be utilized and show potential buyers that these are all working estates with assets… they will be sold as going concerns,” one source close to the industry told Stabroek News.

The source explained that there is currently over 300,000 tons of sugar cane in the fields of the Skeldon, Rose Hall and Enmore estates and it was government’s Special Purpose Unit (SPU) which proposed that the estates be reopened to utilize the cane.
It is the SPU that will be now responsible for overseeing the management of the estates but it is unclear how the project would be executed.

Government last year announced that the Skeldon, Rose Hall and Enmore estates would be closed and by year end over 4,000 GuySuCo workers were given redundancy letters followed by the subsequent estate closures. The Stabroek News said it tried repeatedly to contact Minister of Agriculture Noel Holder and officials of GuySuCo, but to no avail.

However, Minister of Finance Winston Jordan was asked on Thursday by the state-owned National Communications Network (NCN) about the reopening and said that the two estates could be reopened by the end of March. He added that the SPU would be seeking financing for the reopening.

“If they are closed then the interest of investors and how much you will be able to get from a buyer may be considerably less so the thinking is to keep them in motion,” NCN quoted Jordan as saying. (stabroeknews.com)