KINGSTON — To achieve an effective transition to a sustainable sugar cane industry, the Government has allocated just over $2 billion for the Sugar Transformation Project in the 2011/12 Estimates of Expenditure, which is now before the House of Representatives.
As stated in the Estimates, the project aims to develop a sustainable private sector- led sugar cane industry by 2015; strengthen the economic diversification, social resilience and environmental sustainability of sugar dependent areas; and maintain progress towards macro-economic goals.
The physical achievements up to February 2011 included: all five Government of Jamaica (GOJ) owned sugar estates divested; nine studies related to implementation of GOJ’s Sugar Adaptation Strategy completed; cane expansion loan fund established in Sugar Industry Authority (SIA) and operational; redundancy payments made to approximately 3,600 displaced Sugar Company of Jamaica employees; two of five government-owned sugar estates divested; approximately 3,300 displaced Sugar Company of Jamaica employees registered for In-Kind grant under the Sugar Area Development Programme (SADP); and approximately 2,500 vulnerable Sugar Company of Jamaica (SCJ) employees received grant assistance under the SADP.
Anticipated targets for the 2011/12 fiscal year include: increased investment in improving productivity and efficiency in the sugarcane industry through increased capitalisation of cane expansion fund administered by the Sugar Industry Authority; registration of 1,000 small farmers for the Sugar Area Development Programme; complete roll-out of in-kind grants to approximately 800 vulnerable displaced SCJ employees and to small cane farmers and their employees; begin implementation of the recommendation of the Sugar Enquiry Commission into the sugar industry; and further technical assistance and studies to support development of various mixes of ethanol.
Other targets include: increased investment in improving productivity and efficiency in the sugar cane industry through increased capitalisation of Cane Expansion Fund administered by the Sugar Industry Authority (SIA); expanded private sector participation in the sugar cane industry; and capacity building actions to support Sugar Dependent Area Development Projects.
This project is being funded by the Government of Jamaica and the European Union.
By CHRIS PATTERSON, JIS Reporter