Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Indarsingh: I told you so !


RUDY INDARSINGH, the president of the All Trinidad Sugar and General Workers Trade Union (ATSGWTU), yesterday said his union had predicted the move to shut down the sugar industry since the closure of Caroni (1975) Limited in 2003.

He was responding to reports that Prime Minister patrick Manning told sugar cane farmers yesterday that this is the last year the Government would buy their canes, in effect shutting down the remnants of the country’s sugar industry.

Indarsingh said although came farming is family oriented, cane farmers have employed workers and other industries depend on cane farming.

He said, “6000 farmers may now be forced to find a new source of livelihood and this will impact on the people they employ and also the informal economy involved in the industry will suffer. Further to this unemployment would strike the cane haulage contractors.”

Referring to reports that the canefarmers themselves had suggested to the Prime Minister the closure of the industry, Indarsingh said, “I do not know if the position adopted by the cane farming community is designed to appease the government or embrace the PNM policy of inaction or continued discrimination towards the stakeholders.”

Indarsingh claimed the Sugar Manufacturing Company Limited (SMCL), the entity formed after the closure of Caroni, has proven to be failure because it was run by misfits.

Indarsingh charged the government may well be closing down the industry to pump funds into floating Cepep as a political arm of the PNM.

Indarsingh said yesterday’s move vindicated the position that the union took when it attempted to inform the national community and all its stakeholders in 2003 that the

government's policy was to close down the industry and not to pursue any strategy that was designed to ensure its growth and development.

He recalled that the Government told the national community when it established the SMCL that it would lead to an industry size of 75,000 tonnes of sugar a year and an expaned cane farming sector.

Indarsingh said, “Since then the government has not put in place any policies or strategies that facilitated the growth and expansion of the cane farming sector; the cane farming community was to bear the cost of the rural access road and agro chemicals and of course the management of SMCL and the board of the SMCL knew nothing about running a sugar mill or factory and as a result of this was in no position to improve the output at the factory.