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Published:Friday | August 8, 2014 | 12:00 AM


Food imports down - PM

Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller says that food imports have declined for the first quarter of 2014.

Food imports for the quarter were valued at US$252.2 million, which was US$14.4 million less than the US$266.6 million recorded for the corresponding period of 2013.

Simpson Miller made the comments at the 62nd Denbigh Agricultural, Industrial and Food Show on August 3, in May Pen, Clarendon.

Sugar production up 20%

Sugar production for the 2014 crop reached 153,990 tonnes, indicating signs of recovery, according to Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller.

This year's output is approximately 20 per cent better than 2013, when the sector produced 128,196 tonnes.

"In fact, this year, we witnessed the highest level of sugar production ever at Appleton, Worthy Park and Golden Grove," said Simpson Miller, at the 62nd Denbigh Agricultural, Industrial and Food Show on August 3, in May Pen, Clarendon.

She said the surge in production has been helped by the cane loan programme, where cane farmers can access loans for planting and replanting at five per cent interest rate.

"Through this facility, some 2,240 loans have been approved to date involving 11,920 hectares of cane, including 2,200 hectares in Clarendon," the prime minister said.

Last year, sugar exports earned US$53 million, down from US$94 million in 2012, according to the Economic and Social Survey Jamaica.

Venezuela considers selling Citgo

Venezuela is considering selling its oil-refining and distribution network in the United States amid a worsening economic crisis.

Analysts say the proposed sale reflects the government's urgent cash shortage.

Last week, state-owned parent company Petroleos de Venezuela signalled its interest in finding a buyer for the US-based Citgo Petroleum Corp in a bond prospectus. On Tuesday, Oil Minister Rafael Ramírez confirmed Venezuela would sell Citgo if the price was right.

The company has long been an unloved stepchild of the revolution. Former President Hugo Chávez called Citgo a "bad business" and repeatedly floated the idea of selling the US petroleum assets, most recently in 2010.

It's also been a political tool. Venezuela has used Citgo to give families across the US free heating oil during the winter months.