Vice President, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo has described the opposition’s criticisms of the 2024 budgetary allocation for the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GUYSUCO) as another demonstration of it play of the usual race card.
The Opposition’s comment comes ahead of the budget debates which are slated to begin on Monday.
In this year’s budget, $6 billion has been allocated to improve further production and operational efficiency of the sugar industry.
During a press conference at the Office of the President on Thursday, the senior government official said that this allocation is aimed at reviving and maintaining an industry that had been blatantly neglected by the previous APNU+AFC government.
He reminded that the sugar industry took a major dive between 2016 and 2017 with the closure of several estates across the country, leaving thousands of workers without a source of income.
The decision to close down these estates was not sound and went against the report from the Commission of Inquiry that the former Coalition government itself commissioned.
“They sent home 7000 sugar workers without a social safety net. No income whatsoever. You would realise that they avoid certain things in the budget because of the racism of the PNC. They complain about $6 billion to support a productive sector of the economy -sugar, which is vital not only for the employment aspect but for the other services it provides for the people of this country,” he noted.
Upon assuming office in 2020, the PPP/C administration committed to reviving and transforming the industry to ensure that it remains a profitable aspect of the country’s economy.
This commitment bore fruit recently with the reopening of the Rose Hall Sugar Estate, East Berbice Corentyne, after more than six years out of operation, employing more than 1,000 workers.
The vice president pointed out that the opposition has much to say regarding the budgetary allocation for GUYSUCO, but is mum on the allocation for subsidization of Linden electricity.
He said that in the 2024 budget, there is a $4 billion allocation to subsidise electricity in Linden, while $874 million has been set aside for electricity subsidies in Kwakwani, Region Ten.
“In Region Ten alone, we have nearly $5 billion in the budget this year to subsidise electricity in these areas. Those communities pay a fraction of what the people in the rest of the country pay because there is a state subsidy to it. But nobody speaks about this $5 billion that goes to a subsidy, but they have big concerns about the $6 billion that is going to support a productive activity,” he said.
According to him, this selective concern speaks to the opposition’s divisive agenda.