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JMA to meet PM-designate Holness today - Controversial sugar ‘cess’ not up for discussion

Published:Wednesday | March 2, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Metry Seaga

Western Bureau:

The top brass of the Jamaica Manufacturers' Association (JMA) is slated to meet with Prime Minister-designate Andrew Holness today, but the association's president, Metry Seaga, does not expect the controversial cess on imported sugar, which the outgoing administration was contemplating, to even come up during the discussion.

"Our intention is the same. We have absolutely no intention of paying a cess or for it to be contemplated by the new administration. It has died a natural death, as it should have," Seaga told The Gleaner yesterday.

"My focus will be on the issues affecting our membership, and that is the kind of discussion I will be expecting to have with the incoming government."

In criticising the outgoing administration for the cess it had proposed, Seaga said it was such a bad idea that it did not even warrant a discussion.

"The truth is, we don't intend to raise the issue; the matter was so ill-thought it is just not worth conversation any further," the JMA boss said.

The announcement by former Agriculture Minister Derrick Kellier that the Government was considering the imposition of a US$35-per-ton cess on refined-sugar imports last year was met with staunch resistance from members of the private sector.

However, Karl James, general manager of Jamaica Cane Products Sales Limited, told The Gleaner yesterday that local sugar producers intend to keep the issue on the front burner, as, without the cess, local sugar producers will be at a disadvantage.