By Andrew CarmichaelPrime Minister Moses Nagamootoo on Friday tried to pacify thousands of fired sugar workers by saying Government regrets having to dismissed them from their jobs. The statement was made as the Government engaged displaced sugar workers in Berbice on Friday.The Prime Minister led a team of Ministers, including Agriculture Minister Noel Holder, holding two meetings as the officials attempted to justify the closure of the sugar estates.The team held two meetings; one at the Skeldon Community Centre for thoseIn East Canje the police formed a human cordon in front of those who were not in favor of what they were being toldattached to the Skeldon factory, which the government plans to sell, and the other meeting at Rose Hall, where the estate has been closed and most of the workers sent home.Both meetings were met with still irate protesters.However, Nagamootoo told the gathering at East Canje that the Government wants to do better for the industry but can only do so by closing those estates.He said despite firing 4763 workers, the Government has saved the jobs of 11,000 workers.“And that is why rather than allowing the industry to collapse, we have decided toProtesters display signs in East Canje on Fridayreform and restructure the sugar industry. GuySuCo is not going to go out of sugar. It will offer employment at estates that are efficient,” Nagamootoo said amidst loud protests.While delivering his address at Rose Hall, a lot of what the Prime Minister said was drowned out by protesters; most of whom are the workers and their family members who were sent home.At both meetings, protesters heckled which periodically disrupted the meetings. At the Skeldon meeting, the Prime Minister had the majority of his audience listening to him although not all agreed with what they were hearing.However, at the meeting held in East Canje, there were more protesters than those who actually attended the meeting.Minister Holder in a prepared speech said the sugar industry is not being closed but rather consolidated.“No Government wants to sever employees, but sometimes it is the only answer especially given the financial and technical realities which confront the industry the Government was forced to make this urgent decision on the way forward for sugar,” Holder said.The Minister added that Government has set aside more than $2 billion which represents over 50 per cent of the worker’s severance pay. He said the payout will commence on Monday. Those whose severances’ are less than $500,000 will be paid in full, while the other will receive 50 per cent of theirs.“It will provide access to financing for revolving micro-loans to the sum of $100 milion for entrepreneurial endeavours through the Small Business Bureau of the Ministry of Business,” he said, while making mention of the $2 billion.Most of the utterances by the Prime Minister were not on the way forward for the industry and plans for the workers but rather an attack on the People’s Progress Party, its leader and the Region Six administration.However, the former workers were very critical and were annoyed at many of the statements made by the politician, saying he had been there prior to taking office and promised that the estates would not be closed and that their jobs would be secured under a coalition-led Administration.Nagamootoo claimed that the previous Administration was going to close the estates but did not make it public since it wanted persons in the sugar belt to give them their votes, but those utterances were met with widespread criticism.