Investments to support sugar not a handout

first_imgDear Editor,My blood boils with wrath and rage right now. Sugar workers, whose jobs were mercilessly ripped from them by APNU/AFC, are legally entitled to their severance payments, having earned it by sweat and blood; none of them is asking for a handout, only what they are legally entitled to. The Government, through GuySuCo, was required by law to make those payments immediately after they ripped away the jobs from sugar workers. There are no “ands, ifs, buts”; there is no room for ambivalence; no room for excuses; pay the sugar workers their severance with interest now.Instead of telling the sugar workers when they will be paid their overdue severance, behind their backs, President Granger tells his supporters that paying sugar workers is “haemorrhaging” the treasury. In so doing, he abrogates his responsibility to uphold the laws of Guyana. Instead of sitting with his Finance Minister and his Cabinet to determine a way to meet this legal expense, he makes another arrogant excuse. Clearly, paying the sugar workers their legally entitled severance is too painful for President Granger.In fact, when the decision was made to close four sugar estates, he was obligated to find a way to make severance payment with immediate effect. Failure to do so then, and failure to still do so now, is reckless, unlawful, and is misconduct in office. As pointed out by a Canadian union leader, the ministers responsible for the non-payment would have been jailed in countries like America, Canada, Europe.The President did not have the decency to meet with sugar workers and tell them that they are “haemorrhaging” the treasury. He has steadfastly and egregiously refused to meet the sugar workers. In more than three years, in spite of all the efforts of sugar workers, since the estates were closed, the President, his prime minister and other cabinet ministers never once showed any inclination to meet the sugar workers. Yet, behind the backs of sugar workers and in front of his own supporters, the President constantly bemoans the fact that his Government must pay sugar workers their severance.Clearly, he considers the payments unfair and undeserving.The President could think what he wants; it does not change the fact that sugar workers earned severance, and there is no room for prevarication.As President Granger, his prime minister, and their Cabinet continuously complain of the money the Government has to invest in sugar, they conveniently ignore that sugar pumped close to $100 billion into the treasury to support Government expenditures during the 1980s, including expenses to subsidise bauxite, pay public servants etc. Even now, sugar pays billions for non-sugar drainage and irrigation.Investments to support SUGAR are not handouts or subsidies, as this Government wants people to believe — a lie they deliberately have promoted to their supporters. They have demonised sugar and the sugar workers. The President leads in this awful charade, characterising sugar workers as parasites. This plain political discrimination is the kind of behaviour that forces the UN to include Guyana in a “shame list” that now includes 38 countries.Sincerely,Dr Leslie Ramsammylast_img read more