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No more funds for Long Pond - Stanberry says $200m earmarked for transportation must do

Published:Thursday | May 19, 2016 | 5:02 AMMark Titus

Western Bureau:

Donovan Stanberry, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, says the Government does not intend to spend more than the $200 million it had allocated to transport cane from the Long Pond sugar factory, in Trelawny, to factories in St Elizabeth and St Catherine, to operate the Trelawny factory.

The Appleton sugar factory, in St Elizabeth, was one of two factories earmarked to receive sugar cane from cane farmers in Trelawny, after news surfaced that Everglades Farm Limited, which owned the factory, declared that it would not be participating in the current crop year.

With a court injunction basically shutting down Appleton, the Government has stepped in at Long Pond and is doing a three-month operating to ensure that cane farmers have an outlet for their cane. However, the government is adamant that it will not be spending more than the $200 million that was earmarked to provide transportation to Appleton and Worthy Park, in St Catherine. 

“The $200 million, which was allocated to subsidise the transportation cost from Long Pond to Appleton and Worthy Park, is what we are now using to run the Long Pond factory over the three months, no different money,” Stanberry told The Gleaner in a telephone interview yesterday.

“When Appleton did not open, Worthy Park could not absorb all the cane, so we decided to use that same money to reopen the factory and run it.”

Stanberry added: “That is the command, not a dollar more than that.”

After Everglades declared that they would not be participating in the 2015-16 crop year, there were great fears that cane farmers in Trelawny, especially those who had borrowed monies to finance replanting, would pay a heavy price financially. It was that situation that prompted the Government to step in with the $200-million transportation deal.

However, with the court granting an injunction filed by Algix Jamaica Limited against J. Wray & Nephew, the owners of Appleton, for alleged environmental breaches, the factory was forced to keep its doors closed.

The injunction barred Appleton Estates from discharging effluent that does not meet trade standards into two rivers in the parish pending the resolution of the lawsuit. Algix had argued that effluent from Appleton Estates was entering its fish farm and that this has affected its business.

In announcing Government’s decision to run the operations at Long Pond, Agriculture Minister Karl Samuda told Parliament that the Government had to take into consideration the socio-economic impact on the livelihoods of thousands of workers.

mark.titus@gleanerjm.com