Divestment of Sugar Industry Presents Opportunity to Explore Synergies in Alternative Energy – Mullings


Minister of Energy, Mining and Telecommunications, Clive Mullings, has said that the divestment of the sugar industry presents the opportunity for the country to explore synergies and investments in areas such as alternative energy.
“This is a time of challenge, but tremendous potential. We (the Government) have to be careful that when this divestment takes place, that the collaboration is with those who have this vision, and who have something to bring to the industry,” he stated on (Jan. 9), while addressing the opening segment of a Ministry of Agriculture’s sugar industry retreat at the Terra Nova Hotel. According to the Minister, the sugar industry holds great potential and “it is very important for us to look at . what has happened in the world where even oil companies are engaged in a lot of research and involvement in green energy. We have to look at the synergies with respect to ethanol,” he told the gathering of industry stakeholders.
“The fact of the matter is.alternative energy is the way to go. It affects the bottom-line, it makes good economic sense. There are going to be entities that want to invest in the sugar cane industry, not just for ethanol, but for pharmaceuticals, etcetera. This represents a golden opportunity for the sector. It therefore means that we have to look meaningfully at the synergies,” he added.
Mr. Mullings said that instead of having a knee jerk reaction each time there is a spike in oil prices, there now needs to be a sustained buy-in of the potential for diversification that exists. He noted that “there are going to be times where the figures are imploring us to merely divest and therefore not see the other possibilities in part of that privatization,” . (but) we have to change the paradigm. We have to look beyond that wall of debt that seems to suggest that the hope is merely in just divesting everything we have, and see how we can engage (investors),” he stated.
The morning session of the workshop saw presentations on the 2007/08 sugar crop; the adaptation process in the sugar industry; regulatory/institutional framework in a privatized industry; current and future regulatory/institutional framework; and implications for the industry in light of the CARIFORUM/Economic Partnership Agreement.
Meanwhile, discussions during the afternoon sessions covered current and future sugar cane pricing policy; the future of sugar from the farmers’ view point; and the future of the industry from the position of workers. As it relates to renewable energy, the forum looked at the policy and regulatory/institutional arrangements and pricing for renewable energy in Brazil; Jamaica’s policy on renewable energy (ethanol); ethanol possibilities for Jamaica; and electricity power purchase contracts/agreements.

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