Sunday, April 1, 2012

Self-proclaimed champions of the sugar workers, Ramjattan and Nagamootoo, against government’s $4B sugar industry bail out

The main agitators in the sugar industry, the AFC, have shown once again their real agenda as they slam the PPP/C government’s budget for “bailing out” the sugar industry. Self-proclaimed champions of the sugar workers, Khemraj Ramjattan and Moses Nagamootoo, are objecting to the government’s $4 billion allocation to the sugar industry that was recently disclosed in Parliament during Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh’s Budget presentation on Friday last, which is in keeping with the doublespeak with which they have become synonymous.
Even before elections, while campaigning to wrest sugar workers’ support away from Dr. Jagan’s party in favour of the AFC, that party’s candidates have been taking different messages to different communities.
For instance, while Nigel Hughes, Freddie Kissoon and Mark Benschop were telling people in the Buxton, Plaisance and other communities dominated by Guyanese of African descent that the PPP/C has been marginalizing African Guyanese in favour of Indo-Guyanese communities, conversely, Nagamootoo, Ramjattan, Gerhard Ramsaroop and the ‘juju doctor’ were telling the Indo-Guyanese communities, especially sugar workers, that the government was neglecting their traditional supporters -- meaning Indians, especially sugar workers -- in favour of workers in the bauxite industry and other Afro-Guyanese communities.
It is no secret that many CARICOM countries were forced out of the sugar industry because of the EU sugar price cuts, which is causing massive losses every year to that sector in Guyana, with grave impacts to the workers, along with their families, who benefit directly and/or indirectly from the sugar industry.

To its credit, the PPP/C administration, recognizing the terrible consequences that either majorly scaling down or closing the sector would have had on the over 100,000 persons who earn their livelihood from the industry have been battling to sustain the industry, including to date, the largest single investment in Guyana – the modern hi-tech sugar factory in Skeldon.
Rather than being supported in its struggles to keep the industry alive, many sugar workers have been largely unappreciative that these short-term trials would ultimately result in long-term benefits and have been, through the ugly rhetoric and the agitation by opposition elements, especially PPP/C defector Moses Nagamootoo, acting in ways inimical to the interest of the industry, especially through constant strikes that have caused massive losses to the industry and threats to Guyana’s sugar markets.
One wonders when GuySuCo workers would see the real faces behind the masks of concern shown to them by the opposition elements, especially Ramjattan and Nagamootoo, who have both joined with the PNC to bring the party of Dr. Cheddi Jagan down because they aspired to the positions of Bharrat Jagdeo and Donald Ramotar. Their opportunistic shenanigans in and out of parliament have marked their real agenda, as this latest salvo against the budget has shown.
GuySuCo is still in trouble, although slowly gaining ground, and Dr. Ashni Singh’s budget has earmarked $4 billion to support the sugar industry’s efforts to remain a viable force in the national economic and social development construct.
While the PNC’s negative reaction to the PPP/C administration’s Budget is traditional and expected, it is the reaction of the mealy-mouthed AFC members, who are (mis)representing themselves to be very concerned over the welfare of sugar workers, that the misled people should take heed of and recognize them for the two-faced charlatans that they are.

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