Per­saud puts Ally in hot seat over pro­vi­sions for ex-sugar work­ers

Stabroek News - - LETTERS -

So­cial Pro­tec­tion Min­is­ter Amna Ally on Thurs­day said that a “re­quest of as­sis­tance” is a pre­req­ui­site for fund­ing of projects un­der the gov­ern­ment’s Sus­tain­able Liveli­hood and En­tre­pre­neur­ial De­vel­op­ment (SLED) Ini­tia­tive.

Ally was at the time re­spond­ing to ques­tions on the min­istry’s pro­vi­sions for al­ter­na­tive em­ploy­ment for sev­ered sugar work­ers un­der the SLED Ini­tia­tive.

The ques­tions came from PPP/C Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment Dr. Vind­hya Per­saud, who asked whether any pro­pos­als or ini­tia­tives were un­der con­sid­er­a­tion for al­ter­na­tive liveli­hoods for sugar work­ers.

Ally, in re­sponse, be­gan by high­light­ing the ob­jec­tives of the pro­gramme, which in­clude fi­nanc­ing en­tre­pre­neur­ial ven­tures and build­ing the skills of com­mu­nity mem­bers, and then noted that any projects funded are pro­vided for af­ter the min­istry re­ceives a “re­quest of as­sis­tance” from mem­bers of com­mu­nity-based projects. Per­saud, press­ing on, asked what por­tion of the fi­nances al­lo­cated to SLED’s ini­tia­tives in the year 2018 to 2019 will go to­ward the af­fected sugar com­mu­ni­ties.

Ally noted that there is “no pre­de­ter­mined amount iden­ti­fied for spe­cific com­mu­ni­ties” and said that pro­gramme fund­ing is based on bud­getary pro­pos­als.

“Mr Speaker, I am clearly get­ting the sense that there is noth­ing al­lo­cated to an in­dus­try that is paral­ysed,” Per­saud stated, be­fore go­ing on to ques­tion whether any­one who puts in a re­quest will be able to ac­cess funds from SLED or whether there is an in­ter­nal process. If the lat­ter sys­tem was in place, Per­saud was ea­ger to know by who it was man­aged and how the monies were dis­bursed.

“I clearly said that these projects, once re­quests are made and they are con­sid­ered, fund­ing will be dis­bursed,” said Ally.

“Mis­ter speaker, I think the min­is­ter keeps miss­ing my point be­cause she is not re­lat­ing to the ques­tions I’m ask­ing,” Per­saud coun­tered, be­fore ask­ing about a timeline for the im­ple­men­ta­tion of SLED ini­tia­tives for af­fected com­mu­ni­ties and why the thou­sands of sugar work­ers were not ini­tially con­sid­ered.

Ally said that as with any an­nual bud­getary al­lo­ca­tion, im­ple­men­ta­tion is done dur­ing the cal­en­dar year of the ap­proved bud­get, and added that “sugar work­ers is one as­pect of the pop­u­la­tion.”

But Per­saud, in de­fence of the thou­sands who were laid off, ques­tioned how they would ben­e­fit if they were un­aware of the av­enues avail­able to them.

Min­is­ter Ally pointed out that she had high­lighted the ob­jec­tives of the pro­gramme in her ini­tial re­sponse. “I main­tain that, sir,” she di­rected to the Speaker.

The gov­ern­ment had been strongly crit­i­cised for al­low­ing the sev­er­ing of close to 5,000 GuySuCo work­ers with­out hav­ing op­tions in place for them or eval­u­at­ing the so­cial im­pact of the job losses on their com­mu­ni­ties. It had also been pil­lo­ried on its un­pre­pared­ness to pay sev­er­ance im­me­di­ately to all the work­ers. Of the 4,763 sev­ered work­ers, 1,851 are from the Skel­don Es­tate, 1,181 from Rose Hall, 1,480 from the East De­mer­ara Es­tate and 251 from Wales.

Dr. Vind­hya Per­saud

Amna Ally

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Guyana

© PressReader. All rights reserved.