Gov't to rescue two ailing sugar factories
Jerome Reynolds, Staff Reporter
Just six years after ridding itself of the financial burden of operating Jamaica’s sugar factories, the Government could be bailing out two of them.
It may have to take over the operations of Long Pond Sugar Factory in Trelawny, owned by Everglades Farms Limited and the Monymusk Sugar Factory in Clarendon, which is operated by Pan Caribbean Sugar Company.
These factories had been sold by the government following a lengthy divestment process.
But in a statement to the Parliament this afternoon, Agriculture Minister Karl Samuda said Everglades has indicated that it is not in a position to start up operations at Long Pond for the season because of financial problems.
Samuda further said Everglades has indicated that it is prepared for the government to start up and operate the factory for three months.
Noting the importance of sugar production to Clarendon, he said the government has to do something about the 95,000 tonnes of sugar cane that have not been reaped.
Regarding Monymusk, the agriculture minister said Pan Caribbean has indicated that it will not be able to operate the factory next year because of financial challenges.
Samuda also said Pan Caribbean has signaled that it wants to immediately hand over the cane growing operations to independent farmers and the operation of the factory to the government next year.
He said at the same time, Pan Caribbean also wants to continue working with the government and private investors to get new revenue streams to return to operating Monymusk in 2018.
The agriculture minister emphasised that the government is committed to preserving the sugar industry and the livelihood of those who depend on the sector and as such it has seek ways of helping both sugar factories.
Mr Samuda said an announcement will be made when a plan is finalised.
In the meantime, he stresses that the government does not intended to go back into the full scale operation of sugar factories.
Pressed by the opposition on what it will cost the Government to bail out these factories, the agriculture minister said there were no numbers at this time.