Leader of the Alliance For Change (AFC) Khemraj Ramjattan has admitted that his party played an integral role in the decision to close sugar estates across the country – a move which affected thousands of Guyanese and which was widely criticised by stakeholders.AFC Leader Khemraj Ramjattan“When the sugar sector decision was made to close estates and factories and merge some of them, it was primarily the AFC who was a big part of that decision,” Ramjattan said during a Globespan 24×7 programme on Wednesday.“Myself, Mr [Prime Minister Moses] Nagamootoo, and a whole host of other AFC members were part of that decision,” the AFC Leader declared.He was at the time responding to a question posed by the moderator, who asked why the AFC has not represented the thousands of workers – where the party’s support base lies – who were negatively affected when the estates were closed.But according to Ramjattan, “nobody was disenfranchised.” He contended that an “economic decision” had to be made for the sugar sector.“So, it was not a PNC decision that we were forced to accept,” Ramjattan contended.The Rose Hall EstateIn 2016, the Government announced the closure of the first sugar estate located at Wales on the West Bank of Demerara (WBD).The move was made despite the fact that Government spent millions of dollars to hold a Commission of Inquiry (CoI) which recommended that there be no closure of the sugar estates.Estates at Enmore, Skeldon and Rose Hall were subsequently shut down – triggering widespread controversy.More than 10,000 persons have been directly and indirectly affected by the closure of these estates.Nearly 4000 workers from Enmore, Rose Hall and Skeldon were dismissed in late 2017, and over 1000 were dismissed from Wales in the previous year.Cottage industries that were once thriving in some of the communities in close proximity to the estates are now dying as spending power has been significantly diminished among the local populace.Retrenched workers, most of whom were breadwinners of their families, are still struggling to find a steady job – despite several piecemeal initiatives rolled out by the Government.Despite calls by stakeholders, the Government refused to conduct a socioeconomic study before closing the estates.In fact, an executive member of the Working Peoples Alliance (WPA) – a member of the coalition Government – had blasted the APNU/AFC for not conducting social impact assessments before making such a decision.“I think that when you are making decisions to lay off so many people, you have to think about the impact of families and on communities; and I think the decision makers did not put enough thought into that impact, and we are clearly seeing that here,” Hinds had expressed during an event at Patentia – a community neighbouring Wales.The rippling effects of the closure of the sugar estates can be seen in those communities, especially in the commercial districts where activities have practically been ground to a halt.Market areas which were once bustling are now almost isolated.In some cases, families face a daily struggle in finding a way to send their children to school.Government had eventually arranged a $30 billion bond, guaranteed by the State and National Industrial and Commercial Investment Limited (NICIL) assets, to recapitalise the sugar sector.But to date, little information is available on how the money was spent.
Shaheed “Roger” Khan, who returned to Guyana on Friday evening from the United States and was immediately taken into Police custody for questioning relating to two murders, was released on station bail after the 72-hour detention period expired.Shaheed “Roger” KhanThis was confirmed by his attorney, Glenn Hanoman, who, during a telephone interview moments after his client was released, said that Khan was placed on $200,000 bail. Khan was released just after midday on Tuesday. He said that his client was told to report to the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) next week.Hanoman could not say whether his client will be returning as a formality owing to his deportation, or as a suspect who is under investigation for the murder of Ronald Waddell and former boxing coach, Donald Allison.“At this time, we are happy that he was granted bail and without a doubt, he will return to the CID headquarters as requested by the Police,” Hanoman stated.Nevertheless, the Police stated that they are continuing their investigation into the involvement of Khan in the two murders.On Monday evening, Hanoman had explained that the 72-hour detention period expired at 01:00h on Tuesday morning.Attorney-at-Law Glenn HanomanHanoman further stated that the Police did not apply to the High Court for an extension of the detention period, which is an indication that there is no evidence against Khan for the two murders for which he was detained and questioned.Immediately upon his return on Friday, Khan was taken into custody and grilled for the murders of Waddell and Allison.Waddell was gunned down in his car outside his seaside Subryanville, Georgetown home in January 10, 2006. Allison, on the other hand, was shot dead outside the Ricola Boxing Gym in Agricola on the East Bank of Demerara, on September 8, 2005. His name was reportedly called as one of the persons who was believed to have been supporting heavily-armed gunmen in Buxton, East Coast Demerara.Khan was jailed in 2009 after he pleaded guilty to arms trafficking, drug trafficking, conspiracy and witness tampering. He was arrested in neighbouring Suriname in June 2006.After serving his sentence, Khan was released from the US prison on July 8, 2019, placed in the custody of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and was held at the Krome Detention Facility in Miami before his deportation.Khan was escorted to Guyana by agents of ICE on Friday last and was handed over to local Police upon his arrival at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Timehri. He was then transported to the CID headquarters.