As sugar workers, their families and the wider communities continue to face the financial uncertainties experienced as a result of estate closures and general downsizing of the industry, their plight was a topic of discussion with the visiting International Monetary Fund (IMF) team and Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo on Wednesday.Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo meeting with an International Monetary Fund (IMF) team on WednesdayThat team is in Guyana to conduct an assessment of the country’s economy. Through an official statement, it was disclosed that Jagdeo spoke with IMF representatives on a range of matters, which included the impact on workers and the ripple effects that are being seen since estates were shuttered. For the last several months, Guyana Times has been meeting with residents, former Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) employees, and market sellers, who have collectively observed their despair over the fact that communities were once bright and booming with varying ranges of economic activity.On Wednesday, Jagdeo shared his views on the performance of the economy, and was quoted as having provided the IMF team with his and the Parliamentary Opposition’s analysis of key productive sectors. Other topics discussed with IMF focused on agriculture, rice, construction, bauxite, mining and service sectors.The Leader of the Opposition was quoted as having outlined the vision of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C), which foresees the prospects “of expansion and growth of the local economy, creating employment and generating opportunities for Guyanese, including those for wealth creation, among other plans – all of which could sustain, diversify and expand the traditional sectors, while supporting new productive sectors.”Jagdeo was accompanied by fellow PPP/C Parliamentarians Irfaan Ali and Juan Edghill at Wednesday’s meeting.Some 4000 workers from Skeldon, East Demerara (Enmore) and Rose Hall were retrenched after GuySuCo terminated their employment up to late 2017. Before then, over 1000 Wales Estate workers were similarly retrenched when the entity officially ceased operation in December 2016. These moves were in keeping with Government’s cost-cutting measures. However, the David Granger Administration was strongly criticised for not having a holistic approach to age-old industry, as many stakeholders, civil society groups including the private sector and opposition politicians called for social impact studies to be conduct before closures.In December 2017, the Special Purposes Unit (SPU), which falls under the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL), officially took over operations at Skeldon, East Demerara (Enmore), Rose Hall and Wales. It was announced that SPU was overseeing divestment plans by way of either selling off or restarting factories with minimal staff to attract investors – both domestic and foreign.However, it was in March of this year that the SPU rehired about 100 cane harvesters out of thousands to work the fields at Rose Hall Estate. The Enmore Estate was also restarted to keep it running. However, the workers, residents and sellers at Wales have made repeated cries for Wales to be restarted, but many feel that this would be near impossible following reports that much of the factory’s equipment and material was transferred to other estates. Also in March, NICIL put thousands of acres of land from Wales, as well as machinery from various estates, on the market.It was only last month that Guyana Times visited the once famous ‘Friday Market’ at Wales, where sellers related their despair as they were packing up their stocks just before 13:00h, when this publication interviewed them. Sellers were packing up their stocks for the day. This was unlike before December 2016, when the market went later than 17:00h.Seller Jocelyn Boston, who has been vending for over seven years, has bemoaned her continued struggles, which increase with each passing since the closure of Wales.“It very hard, we ain’t getting the sales like before. You come out, just so you gotta pack back and go in. One and two residents coming out and buy; Uitvlugt workers don’t get pay here. They don’t spend here because they got other markets that they passing,” Boston had noted.“Is like you just want run away from here; is a hopeless place. Here nah got hope no more,” a female farmer and market vendor from Wales told Guyana Times in April.
“It was a matter of available personnel,” Reyna said. “We had some injuries, we had some people out, and it made more sense to move A.J. to tight end. He’s a very smart football player and we knew he could make the adjustment.” Perea turned in a strong performance, completing 9 of 15 passes for 96 yards and a touchdown — to Toscano. Perea also rushed 11 times for 78 yards and a touchdown. It figured that while both of his quarterbacks would probably see action, El Rancho High School football coach Willie Reyna planned to start A.J. Toscano and bring Michael Perea off the bench. As it turned out, Perea started, Toscano played tight end and the Dons rolled to a 33-14 victory over Cerritos in last Friday’s season opener. Smolin said Cantwell’s effort included a 90-yard drive in the second quarter and impressive performances by quarterback Mike Toledo, running back Michael Medina and linebackers Chris Gonzalez and Pedro Oliveris. -Marcel Leonardi, El Rancho’s successful girls water polo coach who has built the Dons into a perennial title contender, has resigned to become women’s water polo coach at Cal State Northridge. He will continue to teach science at El Rancho. Leonardi coached the Dons’ water polo program six seasons and posted a 113-53 overall record, including a 23-12 mark in league. His teams won two Del Rio League championships and made the playoffs four times, reaching the quarterfinals twice and the semifinals and championship game once apiece. “It has been a great experience here at El Rancho, and the girls have been great to work with,” Leonardi said, “but I’m ready (to move on to the next level). This is a good opportunity for me. I want to try (coaching) at the college level.” -Sometimes losing has its benefits, too. Joel Francisco, El Rancho’s boys water polo coach, lauded his team after a 16-12 loss to Division III top-ranked Montebello on Tuesday. “It was by far the closest we’ve played them in five years,” Francisco said. “We’re still hoping to crack the top 10 in Division III this year.” Edgar Rodriguez (five), A.J. Abrego (two), Jose Navarro, Ricky Franco and Christian Nunez scored goals for El Rancho. — Roger Murray can be reached at (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3046, or by e-mail at email@example.com. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe top 10 theme park moments of 2019 Toscano, a physical, 6-foot-2, 180-pound senior, had three receptions for 34 yards, and running back Mike Perez shared the spotlight with 84 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries to go with a team-leading four receptions for 21 yards. Reyna praised the offensive line for its blocking but thought the Dons “still made some Game 1 mistakes. Mostly mental, like jumping offsides.” -Add El Rancho: The Dons’ nonleague game this week, originally scheduled at Bell Gardens, has been switched to El Rancho because work on the Lancers’ field is incomplete. Game time is 7 p.m. Friday. -The numbers in the 42-15 loss to La Salle on Friday might might not indicate it, but Cantwell coach Pete Smolin says the Cardinals showed improvement over their season-opening performance. “This one was a matter of playing a team that was bigger and stronger than we were,” Smolin said. “Number 33 (Nathan Bury) wore us out. He’s a 230-pound running back and he got a lot of yardage on us.”