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Mahfood apologises to Kellier

Published:Tuesday | May 5, 2015 | 3:20 PM

LITTLE MORE than a week after President of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) William Mahfood said Agriculture Minister Derrick Kellier had acted like a rogue minister in the ongoing refined sugar cess saga, the head of the private sector body has recanted.

In a statement yesterday, Mahfood said: "In hindsight, the comments were inappropriate and were as a result of the continued frustrations manufacturers face each year in the face of proposed government measures that tend to affect our businesses and the wider business environment."

Mahfood said he issued the apology after reflecting on the issue, which triggered much debate from stake-holders in the industry.

Kellier had dismissed the comment in an interview with journalists, saying it was a democratic country and "people free fi chat any foolishness dem want to chat".

a harmonious environment

The PSOJ president noted that "when we realised that we have made comments that can detract from the real issues, it is important that we correct it as soon as possible".

According to Mahfood, "In our partnership for solutions between the public and private sectors, we should always seek to ensure a harmonious environment necessary to grow our country together. As such, I look forward to working with the minister and his team and all other stakeholders in arriving at an amicable solution in the shortest possible time."

Kellier had maintained that the Government was still open to dialogue with members of the manu-facturing sector on the controversial proposed cess on imported sugar. However, he had made it clear that the administration had a duty to protect the country's revenue.

More than a week ago, head of Jamaica Customs Major Richard Reece told the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament that his agency had lost $130 million in revenue owing to the leakage of refined sugar into the retail trade.

However, he said no major manufacturer or member of the Jamaica Manufacturers' Association was involved in the illegal act.