Wed | Sep 20, 2017

JMA disturbed by new sugar import regime

Published:Friday | November 7, 2014 | 11:07 AM

The Jamaica Manufacturers’ Association (JMA) says it is extremely disturbed by the announcement that the Sugar Industry Authority (SIA) is to be Jamaica’s sole importer of refined sugar.



It says the announcement has very serious implications for the approximately 100 manufacturers registered as refined sugar users.



The JMA says it has asked for an urgent meeting with Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller and the Agriculture and Industry ministers.



The agriculture ministry says the move to have the SIA as the sole importer of refined sugar will stem revenue leak under the current system, where duty-free imported sugar, intended for the manufacturing sector, finds its way into the retail trade.



However, the JMA says the imposition of a monopolistic regime will impede the competitiveness of the manufacturing industry, lead to higher pricing, quality inconsistency and an unreliable supply.



In addition it says some manufacturers have to conform to certain specifications, due to franchising agreements.



The JMA also notes that long-term supply contracts of refined sugar for several businesses, distributors and manufacturers are already in place.



It says if these businesses are forced to break contracts, the relationship with suppliers will be adversely affected and there will be costs associated with breaching these contracts.



The JMA is calling for a reversal of the decision, which it says was made without consultation.



According to the JMA if the plan is not abandoned for a more favourable solution, some manufacturers may be forced to curtail or close their operations in Jamaica and relocate to other countries.



It notes that this will harm the Government’s growth agenda.



The JMA says while it is aware there is some revenue leakage, what is needed is greater enforcement of existing policies.



It is also suggesting reduced duties on refined sugar, which now stands at 168 per cent; and a change in the way sugar is packaged.



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