APNU/AFC Ministers MIA

first_imgDear Editor,It is an understatement that rice farmers across Guyana have no confidence in the Minister of Agriculture or in the APNU+AFC government. The No-Confidence motion of December 21st 2018, in fact, wholly captures the sentiments within the rice industry and within the agriculture sector. Rice farmers and millers have played a significant role in helping to keep Guyana’s economy afloat in the midst of under-performance from every other sector in the country. In the midst of a stagnant economy, gross mismanagement and incompetence from the APNU/AFC government, the rice industry has continued to shine bright. But the APNU/AFC government has only been visible in its policies and programs to stymie the rice industry. This government has been missing in action when it comes to helping the rice industry.At this very moment, rice farmers are struggling to irrigate their rice fields in Region 6, with almost 600 acres of rice fields under threat of being entirely lost. Similar struggles are evident in Region 2. Rice farmers in Region 2 are still struggling with non-payment, as are pockets of rice farmers in other regions. Rice farmers across Guyana are struggling to cope with rising lease and D&I fees. The Minister of Agriculture has remained totally silent, seemingly totally oblivious of the struggles of these rice farmers. For rice farmers across Guyana and for rice millers, this Minister has been MIA since May 2015, always seemingly unavailable, always absolutely disinterested.While rice farmers have ensured they sustain high production of rice, the potential for expansion is being squandered by an incompetent and disinterested APNU+AFC and a Minister who has been missing in action, totally MIA. In 2014, Guyana produced 640,000 tons of rice and was set to achieve 700,000 tons in 2015. In the first crop of 2015, Guyana produced almost 400,000 tons of rice and, therefore, was set to easily achieve the 700,000 tons target for 2015. Guyana failed because of the sabotaging policies of APNU/AFC. It failed to achieve the 700,000 tons target in 2016, 2017 and 2018. Yet no one can dispute that if the Minister and the Minister of Agriculture supported the rice farmers, Guyana can easily surpass 700,000 tons.Minister Noel Holder is the responsible Minister for the rice industry. There should be no need to state this obvious fact. But in this instance it is necessary, it is a call to Minister Holder to remind him that the rice industry is part of his portfolio. This Minister is in the running for the title of the MOST MIA MINISTER. Not only is Minister Holder MIA whenever there is a problem in the sector, he appears to always be running far away from the problem. In the past, he has insisted that rice is a private sector business and he has no authority to intervene.This is the same minister that once disowned SUGAR, when he insisted that GuySuCo is not his responsibility, but that of the Ministry of Finance and NICIL. In fact, there are over 7,000 sugar workers who lost their jobs because four sugar estates were closed and these workers and their families are struggling to stave off debilitating poverty, but Minister Holder has never acknowledged that his Ministry has responsibility. In fact, this Minister is MIA as the country demands answers as to the whereabouts of the $30B taken as a loan by NICIL on behalf of GuySuCo. No one knows where this money is, even as GuySuCo /NICIL must pay $2.5B in interest for this loan.Indeed, this Minister is suppose to oversee a sector that largely helped to limit the deficit in balance of payments, that is the balance between our export earnings and import expenditures. At the end of 2014, Guyana maintained only a small deficit because we managed to earned as much $US in exports as we spent on imports. Yet in 2018, the deficit has ballooned to almost US$100M. This is because export earnings have been reduced by almost US$300M. Most of that export earnings losses have come from reduced sugar, rice and fish exports. The Minister of Agriculture has been shamefully silent.Agriculture has always been the strength of Guyana’s economy, the sector that employs the largest number of Guyanese. It is the sector that feeds our nation and is responsible for Guyana being a food-secured country. We need an active, attentive Minister of Agriculture, interested in every problem that plagues the sector. As rice farmers struggle, they need the interest of their minister. But Minister Holder only offers a worrisome disinterest, always missing in action, MIA. This is why rice farmers and other farmers have no confidence that APNU/AFC can manage Guyana.Sincerely,Leslie Ramsammylast_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *