Sat | Mar 28, 2020

Everglades refutes million-dollar debt to Government!

Published:Saturday | February 3, 2018 | 12:00 AMErica Virtue/Senior Gleaner Writer
An old boiler on the grounds of the Hampden Estate in Trelawny.

Everglades Farm Limited - which owns Long Pond and Hampden sugar estates - has disputed claims from permanent secretary in the ministry of agriculture Donovan Stanberry that its lease payment under the agreement with the Government since 2009 is not being honoured.

On Wednesday, Stanberry, in response to committee member Leslie Campbell, told Parliament's Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) that the matter of payment is now being arbitrated, as Everglades was non-compliant.

"There have been some lapses in the payment of the lease," Stanberry told Campbell, who also asked if (Everglades) was up to date in the payment.

"No. I don't want to comment too much on it, because we have engaged a process, and Sugar Company of Jamaica Holdings (SCJH) which is the Government's custodian of those lands, is now in the process of arbitration with Everglades Farm Limited, in respect of a number of outstanding matters, including the leases..." said Stanberry.

Chairman of Everglades Ruth Hussey, in a letter to the Gleaner rejects the claims.

According to her, Everglades undertook to defray certain costs which were properly SCJH's on the understanding that it would be reimbursed.

These include security for lands and other assets not leased to Everglades, and taking corrective action in respect of environmental breaches under SCJH operations. Everglades in good faith incurred those costs and made claims on SCJH which has honoured those payments in part, she said.

"Everglades has met all of its obligation under the terms of the lease, including having delivered a cheque in full settlement the lease for 2017/2018 subject to the conclusion of the mediation," she said.

When combined with the payments made by Everglades to SCJH, that body owes Everglades substantial sums Hussey said.

Against that background the matter is being arbitrated and is to be heard February 23.