Gov't not going into sugar - Samuda
The government has no intention of providing a bailout for the sugar industry or re-investing in it ever again, and Karl Samuda, minister of industry, commerce, agriculture and fisheries, was at pains to make that quite clear in an interview with The Gleaner.
"We do not intend to spend any money in the sugar industry or in the operation of the sugar industry beyond what was provided for in the Budget by the previous government to underwrite the transporting of cane to Worthy Park and Appleton," he insisted.
Some $22 million of that $213 million has already been spent, an amount of which he made light. "In the context of the state we are in now, nuh rum money that man?" he opined.
Samuda was clarifying the decision by Government to temporarily take over operations at the privately run Monymusk Sugar Factory in Clarendon, in order to facilitate the take-off of cane on the ground and offset heavy financial losses to farmers.
"We are trying our best, and I am working overtime - day and night - to try and solve that problem. This notion that we are into cane is completely off the wall because at no stage has there been an expression of intent to get back into cane.
"Our job is to facilitate business and preserve and expand jobs, and we have no intention, never did have any intention, and never said we did, to get back into that industry. And notwithstanding what anybody else in the past might have said but did not mean, when I speak, I speak from a position of knowledge."
The actions regarding Monymusk has been interpreted in some quarters as a plan by the Government to eventually get back into the operation of sugar factories which it divested some years ago.
Not so, said Samuda.
"Now, if we have an agency that has the manpower, the capability, and the technical knowledge to guide a facility, where it is not going to cost us any money - we're giving supervisory and technical advice - does that mean that we gone back in the sugar business?"