Government on Saturday, commenced the distribution of its $250,000 ‘one-off’ cash grant to sugar workers who were severed by the former APNU/AFC Government.
Vice President, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo announced in October, that before the end of 2021, severed sugar workers would benefit from the government payout totaling approximately $1.8 billion.
Agriculture Minister, Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha and Senior Minister within the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Hon. Dr. Ashni Singh, spearheaded the distribution exercise at the Enmore Administrative Office and the Wales Community Center Ground.
Giving remarks at the distribution exercise at the Enmore Estate, Minister Mustapha said the exercise represents another fulfilled commitment by the government to improve the lives of people.
“When we were in Opposition, we said when we returned to government, we would ensure that the sugar workers who were severed would receive some form of assistance although they already received their severance pay. We are here today, and as a party when we make promises we always deliver on those promises. Everyone here, who was severed by the previous administration, I know that your lives were changed tremendously. You had a job and then suddenly we had the closure of four estates. With the stroke of a pen, the former government put 7500 sugar workers on the breadline. The repercussions were severe. The workers’ lives were devastated and the many village economies were destroyed. Access to utilities became a luxury for many people. Today, as I am speaking here, we are standing to the commitment made to the people,” Minister Mustapha.
Minister Mustapha also said that in addition to the $250,000 grant, the government is working to reopen several of the closed estates in a phased approach. He further stated that, to date, approximately 1200 workers who were severed have been reemployed with the government investing close to $12 billion to rehabilitate the industry.
Meanwhile, Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance Hon. Dr. Ashni Singh, said the decision to close the estates was one of the most callous decisions made by any government in Guyana’s history.