Mark Titus, Gleaner Writer
DONOVAN STANBERRY, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, is now awaiting the audit report that Pricewaterhouse-Coopers conducted into the operations of the Sugar Industry Authority and the Sugar Industry Research Institute.
The audit was commissioned to re-examine the operations of the entities and the regulations that govern them, in light of the privatisation of the sector. The audit was among a number of recommendations made by the Alvin Wint-led Sugar Industry Enquiry Commission to improve the local sugar industry, two years ago.
"I am expecting the report on my desk by the end of this month, and we have already allocated funds from our budget to implement any recommendation made," Stanberry told The Gleaner.
Wint and fellow commissioners Wilfred Baghaloo and Marjorie Henriques were appointed to examine and report on the relevance of the current regulatory, institutional, cane pricing and product marketing arrangements in the sugar industry, and make recommendations for any changes, if necessary.
In the aftermath of the commission's report, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries appointed a subcommittee led by arbitrator Maurice Stoppi to review the cane-payment system throughout the crop year, deliberate on the independence of core samplers, the remuneration to cane growers for the bagasse used in electricity generation; and the issue of quality base payment for harvesting.
According to Stanberry, steps are now being taken for the implementation of some of the issues deliberated on by the group. However, they are yet to conclude on the independence of core samplers.
"The ministry will have to step in, because I have given enough time to the group, but still nothing. So we will be taking a look at how it is done in other countries and then make a determination thereafter, but for the other aspects (of the recommendation), we are way down the wicket," declared Stanberry.
During the commission of enquiry, Allan Rickards, chairman of the All-Island Jamaica Cane Farmers' Association, called for the operators of the core and the lab to be independent of both manufacturer and farmer.
While the commission has agreed and has made recommendations accordingly, The Gleaner has learnt that the producers are not in agreement.