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The House of Representatives yesterday (Sept. 23), approved a Ministry Paper for the Heads of Agreement, between the Government of Jamaica and Infinity Bio-Energy of Brazil.
Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Christopher Tufton, who moved for the Ministry Paper to be approved, noted that the Government is committed to the country’s strategy for the adaptation of the sugar cane industry up to 2015.
“So far, we are comfortable with the negotiations as far as the company that we are negotiating with is concerned,” Dr. Tufton said.
Under the signed Heads of Agreement between the Government of Jamaica and Brazilian company, Infinity Bio-Energy Limited (IBE), the company has agreed to introduce methods aimed at improving agricultural productivity and developing the local sugar cane industry.
In a recent statement to the Lower House, Dr. Tufton, said the methods specifically include, but are not limited to: assisting farmers, through a farmers’ development programme; providing them with associated services, such as cane cultivation, harvesting, loading, and transportation; developing new varieties of sugar cane, either through a research and development programme of local varieties or with the importation of suitable varieties developed by Infinity and Infinity’s partners; and increasing mechanisation and irrigation, when appropriate, to levels that maximise financial returns.
Meanwhile, Minister of Energy, Clive Mullings, said the privatisation of the sugar industry will allow Jamaica a great opportunity to transform, not only the pressures on the foreign exchange, but will also allow “us to have energy security.”
“It will allow us to build our own local capacity so that we can, in fact, ensure our own destiny,” Mr. Mullings said.
In addition, Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Audley Shaw, noted that the Government was on the right track in privatising the sugar cane industry.
“We are on the right track as we are talking about putting all Sugar Company of Jamaica lands into production, getting the private sector in and not only having a 40 million gallon per year plant (Petrojam Ethanol), but that the new owners are going to build in addition to that, at least another plant, perhaps at Monymusk, for another 100 million gallon capacity of ethanol production,” Mr. Shaw said.
He also noted that the Government needs to ensure the operational integrity of the divestment.
Mr. Shaw also stated that the Government, as part of its ownership, “we are going to have three members on the board that are going to be called up on to make regular and serious reports to the Government, about the progress of the divestment and the new ownership and management.”
“We are going to ensure that it is properly monitored, and we are confident that it is going to be successful. The time demands this kind of energy, this kind of enterprise, and this type of initiative,” the Finance Minister said.
Bio Infinity, will also supply the local market with the products and volumes of sugar and sugar related by-products, and will develop new products, diversifying its range of products, including but not limited to sugar, ethanol, molasses, and cogeneration of energy from bagasse and bagasse pellets.
The company will also promote and support a number of social programmes in the communities surrounding the sugar estates, through the provision and maintenance of clinics, housing and sports facilities; financial support to schools and churches; and medical and dental assistance.