The Prime Minister’s recent statement that “sugar will not die … in my lifetime” is just a vain attempt to hoodwink the nation in general and sugar workers, in particular.
This is just gaff by Nagamootoo to appease sugar workers just like the one he pulled on rice farmers when he promised to give them $9,000 per bag for paddy.
Nagamootoo knew then that once in power the APNU/AFC would shaft rice farmers. And they did. They turned their backs on rice farmers and the industry.
Today, the Prime Minister knows very well that he is not calling the shots where the future of the sugar industry is concerned. Yet he is making bold statements like the ones he made at the recent commemorative event to mark the struggles of the Rose Hall Martyrs in Canje, Berbice.
The PNC-led elements within the APNU has decided that the sugar industry would be closed and has already earmarked Rose Hall and Skeldon for closure. They are already having secret talks with potential buyers.
The AFC has now been consumed by the PNC, which controls APNU. So whatever Nagamootoo and Ramjattan say will be just wind. The most they can now do is to justify their usefulness in the Coalition by seemingly being sympathetic with sugar workers and rice farmers and win some support.
Nagamootoo tried his best to soft-soap workers by saying that some estates will have to be closed in order to save the industry. This is just trying to put a spin on the PNC’s agenda to make it palatable.
They have already closed Wales Estate and scaled down operations at LBI. Further they have not paid severance to the Wales workers. For the last two years, sugar workers have not been given wage increases and other benefits. The sugar unions have been treated with scant regard. Despite strong calls for the government to hammer out with stakeholders a realistic option for the industry, the government is bent on closing it.
Nagamootoo and Ramjattan have said nothing about these negative developments. It is in the sugar and rice belts that the AFC got its votes in previous elections. That support has dwindled to almost nothingness today.
Nagamootto and Khemraj Ramjattan are now attempting to regain a semblance of acceptability within these communities, which are suffering at the hands of this government.
Nagamootoo’s position is also reflective of the high level of confusion within the government on how to deal with the situation, especially now that the main opposition seems bent on putting sugar workers on the alert to defend their existence.
Workers are seeing through the game Nagamootoo is playing.
They know that he is trying to lead them to the cliff for them to commit suicide. Already, thousands are on the breadline and Nagamootoo says nothing about it.
This is hypocrisy of the highest order. While honouring the sugar workers for their struggles and those that have fallen at Rose Hall, he failed to take a stance on the plight of the workers today.