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Published:Saturday | November 26, 2016 | 11:00 AM
Minister of Local Government and Community Development Desmond McKenzie (third left), breaks ground for a ‘water shop’ at Pennants, in Clarendon, on November 24. Others (from left) are General Manager for Engineering at Rural Water Supply Limited, Douglas Wilson; Councillor for the Chapelton Division, Florette Stewart; Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development, Denzil Thorpe; and CEO of the Clarendon Municipal Corporation, Rowhan Blake.

Manufacturers who are guilty of passing off duty-free imported sugar to retailers, undercutting local producers, will now have to fork out millions as penalty, and retailers caught participating in the practice are going have to dump the sugar.

So said Karl Samuda, the minister of industry, commerce, agriculture and fisheries, as he addressed cane farmers in Kingston on Tuesday.

The policy is in response to complaints from players in the domestic industry that manufacturers who use refined sugar as raw material and get duty concessions are selling it in the retail trade at enormous profits, marginalising local players.

The drastic measures, Samuda said, have been implemented by his ministry in conjunction with the Bureau of Standards Jamaica.

"We put in regulations through Bureau of Standards, that anything supermarkets sell with sugar in it and package it, if it does not have the stamp of the Bureau of Standards, it is going to go right into the dump."


New classification


The minister said that coming out of a meeting of agriculture ministers across the Caribbean, held in Guyana recently, new classification for imported sugar will be implemented to further protect domestic producers.

According to Samuda, because of the difficulty at customs to differentiate between plantation white and refined sugar, a new standard has been established for plantation white to be classified as 'other' while granulated or refined sugar will hold its name for classification purposes.

"The idea of slipping through the raw material and the finished product, those days are over," he said.

He charged that it was his responsibility to secure and maintain a level playing field for all interests and he would not allow those with ulterior motives to destroy the local sugar industry.

"We must make sure that those who take the risk to produce the sugar and go out into the world to market the products are not undermined by people who want to get rich quick," Samuda said.