Jamaica looking for investors to run sugar company

Thursday, January 05, 2017

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KINGSTON, Jamaica (CMC) – The Jamaica government is seeking investors to take over the operations of the Monymusk Sugar Factory in Clarendon after the Pan-Caribbean Sugar Company Ltd — a subsidiary of Chinese-based Hua Lien International Holding Co Ltd — ceased operations after billions of dollars in losses.

Last April, the company announced that it had recorded losses of $7.3 billion for 2015 following the $3.2-billion deficit it suffered the previous year.

The company sold 50,900 tonnes of raw sugar and 35,200 tonnes of molasses in 2015, compared with 54,900 tonnes of raw sugar and 31,400 tonnes of molasses in 2014 resulting in its revenue falling from $4.6 billion to $4.5 billion.

Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Karl Samuda said the Andrew Holness government had received several offers from potential investors and talks are at the preliminary stage to find "not just somebody who knows how to handle money, but somebody who knows about the (sugar) industry".

He said the aim is to ensure that Jamaica will never again "find ourselves in a position where our production is compromised by inadequate attention to the fields where all the money is made."

Samuda, who has appealed to people to end the illegal practice of cane burning, said he is also optimistic of increased production this year.

He said due to increased rainfall and overall good weather conditions over the past year, the industry is in a "much better place".

"We are going to have a much better crop this year. In addition, the price of sugar has increased, making it far more viable today than it was a year ago, and we are all more hopeful that it will continue to rise," Samuda said.

But he acknowledged that the illegal burning of cane fields has resulted in millions of dollars in losses for the sugar industry.

"The last thing we want in this country is for the workers in the sugar industry to continue to burn sugar illicitly. Illicit burning of sugar is destructive to the foundation of our economy, it is unpatriotic and it is very discouraging for those people who work night and day, tirelessly, to keep the industry going.

"Apart from everything else, it is criminal and they should all be put in prison for the actions that they are undertaking," he added.

He said he is urging the police to take a firm stand against people who illicitly burn sugar cane.

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