Sat | Dec 15, 2018

JACRA board keeps MICAF waiting

Published:Wednesday | August 22, 2018 | 7:35 AMAvia Collinder
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture & Fisheries, Donovan Stanberry.

Proposals from the board of the Jamaica Agricultural Commodities Regulatory Authority, JACRA, regarding the path forward for the agency are yet to be submitted to the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, MICAF.

The proposals would have been informed by a working group's review of the new authority that itself was sparked by a revolt among commodity traders and other businesses on the size of the cess levied on them by JACRA as a means of financing its regulatory functions.

While a coffee industry member told the Financial Gleaner last week that their latest information was that the new cess on that sector would be repealed, MICAF Permanent Secretary said Monday that no such decision has been made.

He said any decision to be made by the minister, Audley Shaw, would be based on the proposals from JACRA, but those recommendations were still outstanding.

JACRA is still without a permanent boss to oversee its daily operations - the first candidate departed after the probationary period - but interviews are now under way for a replacement.

The authority began operating in January, the cess on six agricultural products were implemented in April and the revolt among businesses reached a crescendo in June, forcing MICAF back to the negotiating table with sector interests.

The report that followed was done by "a working group of internal stakeholders" and contained feedback from industry members trading in the six commodities -- coffee, cocoa, coconuts, ginger turmeric and pimento.

Stanberry said then the rationale for the cess was to discourage the huge volume of imports, while the proceeds would finance the development of nurseries to provide seedlings, as well as area-wide pest control programmes.

avia.collinder@gleanerjm.com