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Manufacturers resolute on sugar 'cess' but…

Published:Tuesday | August 4, 2015 | 5:47 PMMark Titus
Metry Seaga

Western Bureau:

Local manufacturers have agreed to have further discussion with the Government regarding the planned imposition of a US$35 cess on refined-sugar imports, but they have no plans to retreat from their original position.

"We met with Minister (Derrick) Kellier and his team last week, and we have decided to have further discussion on the issue but we have also made it clear that as a matter of principle, we will under no circumstances accept their (the Government's) proposal," Metry Seaga, president of the Jamaica Manufacturers' Association, told The Gleaner on Tuesday.

Kellier, who took office last year, began a review of the refined-sugar policy, under which he initially proposed that the Sugar Industry Authority (SIA) would be the sole importer and distributor - a process that would force manufacturers to buy from the SIA's designated agent.

However, several manufacturers have argued that it would make them less competitive. One major player even threaten to take his business to Trinidad, where no such levy is imposed, while others argue that the fee was counter to the objectives of economic growth.

no consultation

That decision was subsequently amended with a second proposal, reportedly being that large manufacturers would be able to obtain a permit from the SIA to import their own supplies.

Kellier is said to have announ-ced the cess on imports without consultation with the sector.

However, in a joint statement, the All-Island Jamaica Cane Farmers' Association, the Sugar Manufacturing Corporation of Jamaica, and Jamaica Cane Products Sales Limited expressed satisfaction with the agriculture ministry's decision to reinstate supervision and control of all refined sugar imported into the island, to the SIA.

Chairman of the All-Island Jamaica Cane Farmers' Asso-ciation Allan Rickards says the decisions made by Kellier were timely and would prove to be extremely important for the development of the country's sugar industry and economy.