Gov't stands by sugar industry, indicates restructuring to take place

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Gov't stands by sugar industry, indicates restructuring to take place

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Audley Shaw yesterday announced the Government's intention to support the country's sugar industry and preserve the jobs of some 30,000 employees in the sector.

Shaw outlined the support for the industry as he addressed stakeholders at a sugar industry luncheon held at the Spanish Court Hotel in New Kingston, according to a release from his ministry.

Acknowledging that the sugar industry was in a state of crisis, Shaw said that in spite of the many challenges there were opportunities and that as minister, he had a duty and an obligation to rescue and turn around the industry.

With reference to subsidies to factories, such as Monymusk, over the past two years and the decision by Pan Caribbean not to operate that factory next year, Shaw urged farmers of Clarendon and St Catherine to go ahead and “grow your sugar cane”, assuring them that the Government would take the crop off them next year.

If the Monymusk factory does not reopen, the agriculture minister said, arrangements would be made to have the reaped cane transported to factories at Worthy Park in St Catherine and Appleton in St Elizabeth. Government would guarantee, Shaw emphasised, that the crop be taken off.

Addressing the future of the Monymusk factory, the minister announced that there was already one firm proposal and a few other expressions of interest for investment in the facility.

Expressing optimism that Jamaica's sugar industry would “sprout again”, Shaw said a new model for cultivating and processing sugar cane and a rationalisation of sugar lands to allow for the growing of other crops were among the strategies needed to revitalise the industry.

Shaw also identified the illegal leakage of duty-free imported white sugar, destined for the manufacturing sector, into the retail trade as a major factor which was undermining and helping to destroy Jamaica's indigenous sugar industry.

In order to stop this “illegal and corrupt practice”, the removal of upfront duty-free entry was now being contemplated, Shaw said. The importers would be required to pay the duty up front and await reimbursement within 30 days.

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