Tony Vieira's Comments
18 October 2017

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Public opinion and Big Food
(Aired 26 March 2003)

   Public opinion is very important and tonight I want to acknowledge the work of an outstanding Guyanese who understand how these things work. I am not satisfied that the local media understand or reported what I will outline for you next, two years ago this government retained Dr. Fenton Ramsahoye to represent their interest in a matter concerning outstanding payments to the Big Food group which owns the Iceland chain of  food stores, Fenton prepared 17 volumes of arguments over the past 2 years on this matter, I saw them myself, but he fought this battle on another front, he asked his friend Neil Kinnock, the former leader of the Labour party, to mobilise public opinion through protests mainly in Clapham Common where all the West Indians live, and for the past two years these protests have been gaining momentum especially over the past month so on Monday 17th March 2003 the directors of Big Food met and decided that they would lose more by loss of sales due to the protests and calls for boycotts of their food chain by going to arbitration with a poor HIPIC nation, than they would gain from settlement of the 12 million pounds they claimed we owed them for the nationalisation of the sugar industry, of course the wily Ramsahoye had already made them concede that Bookers had agreed since 1990 that the debt had been written off, so they had no entitlement to make such a claim. Faced with the possibility of losing at arbitration and the additional loss in revenue due to the protests, the Big Food group have now decided that they want no part of Ramsahoye or Guyana. There are great Guyanese Ladies and gentlemen so sad that so few are still with us. It is still a mystery to me why we keep paying hundreds of thousands if not millions of US dollars to people like Reichler when we have Guyanese like Ramsahoye who actually win these cases, for far, far less. In fact, and I may be wrong, but this government has not, to the best of my knowledge, paid Ramsahoye a cent for this work to date.