KINGSTON — The Government has completed privatisation of the island's sugar industry, on August 15 signing a divestment agreement with COMPLANT Group of Companies for the three remaining factories.
Under the arrangement, which was signed at Jamaica House, COMPLANT will acquire Bernard Lodge, St. Catherine; Frome, Westmoreland; Monymusk, Clarendon and associated lands for US$9 million ($774 million).
The Chinese company will also lease some 18,000 hectares of cane lands for US$35 ($3,010) per hectare, per annum for a period of 49 years.
Speaking at the ceremony, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Robert Montague, said that the signing “underpins the long and fruitful relationship between Jamaica and China and we are strengthening that relationship as we go forward."
“We know that this relationship will be long and fruitful. We not only expect COMPLANT's investment in sugar and in the planting of cane but we are also expecting that, as good corporate citizens, COMPLANT will play its role in other areas and aspect of the Jamaican economy,” he stated.
Mr. Montague assured COMPLANT of the continued support of the Ministry and commended the relevant stakeholders for their sterling contribution in ensuring that the deal has been finalised.
In his remarks, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), COMPLANT Group of Companies, Tang Jianguo, said the next steps to be undertaken are renovation and rehabilitation works.
He said that the company will be utilising local personnel in the management of the estates and pledged to “set up collaborations with Jamaican counterparts to promote the development of the whole industry."
“We will make efforts to strengthen the exchanges and communications to set up harmonious relations… (while) creating win-win situations. We will make every effort to push forward the development of the sugar industry of Jamaica,” Mr. Jianguo added.
The Government decided to sell the country’s five sugar estates, which were being managed by the Sugar Company of Jamaica (SCJ) following periods of huge losses, which resulted in debts of more than $18 billion.
In June 2009, the two smaller factories, Duckenfield, St. Thomas and Long Pond/Hampden in Trelawny, were sold to local investors with conditions to invest in their expansion and modernisation.
By CHRIS PATTERSON, JIS Reporter