Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley is singing a different song to ex-cane farmers than he did before the general election.
This week, Rowley declared that the former farmers will receive $52 million and “not one cent more.”
That is a different message from the one he delivered in the heart of the former sugar belt just before last September’s general election.
He told a PNM political meeting at Couva last August: “I want to say to cane farmers we of the PNM have no record of turning our backs on a Government (and) … we will pay you the money.”
He stated that the ex-farmers had “a legitimate expectation” of receiving the money and that a PNM administration will make the outstanding payments.
Rowley told that meeting that the PNM had been fair to the sugar workers and, when he previously served as a Minister of Agriculture, he was equitable in his decisions.
Quizzed on the outstanding sums to the former cane farmers in the House of Representatives last Friday, the Prime Minister said the Government had received no funding from the European Union.
But at a PNM meeting in Arima on Tuesday, he confirmed receipt of the money and stated that there will be payments of $52 million.
The ex-farmers, through their attorney Gerald Ramdeen, have asserted that they will still be owed some $23 million.
There have been no indications of any Government payment plans for that sum.
Earlier this week, former Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar threatened to go to court on behalf of the farmers if there were no Government announced by Friday.
Persad-Bissessar stated that the three conditions set by the EU had been met.
Ramdeen said the $52 million will be accepted, but that the ex-farmers with fight for the remaining sum.
He said that farmers are not begging for a favour or a gift.
“This is not a matter of gratitude,” he said.