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Gov't bails out of sugar

Published:Tuesday | May 9, 2017 | 12:00 AMChristopher Serju
Karl Samuda

Government is scaling down investment in the Long Pond and Monymusk sugar factories even as it takes steps to recover all the money it has spent to date in extending a lifeline to the respective Trelawny and Clarendon-based operations.

"Under no set of circumstances can the Government put any more money into the re-engagement of the Long Pond Factory. The economies of scale plus the level of determination of the cane quality make the viability of this facility extremely challenging. Our support (therefore) will be limited to a subsidy to underwrite the transportation of cane to either Worthy Park or Appleton, or both," Karl Samuda, minister of industry, commerce, agriculture and fisheries disclosed on Tuesday.

In fact, his administration will insist on a successor agreement that will guarantee full recovery of all money spent, the minister said in his presentation to the Sectoral Debate in Parliament.

With Everglades and Pan Caribbean still unable to resume management of these estates, the Government has no choice but to step in again to avert the significant loss of jobs and subsequent economic devastation that transpire in sugar-dependent communities should the State fail to intervene. However, it is not prepared to go much further in subsidising the operations of a lost cause.

"This situation cannot continue," Samuda told the Gordon House audience. "From the very outset, I advised the honourable house that our intervention was temporary as efforts were to have been made by the owners, assisted by us, to find new investors."

"I must now report that despite our collective efforts, nothing concrete has materialised," the agriculture minister admitted. "I now wish to advise this honourable house as well as the owners of these estates, that the funds provided by the Government in these rescue efforts must be repaid from the process of any divestment or refunded by any new partner."