JIS News

President of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS), Senator Norman Grant, has forwarded several recommendations to improve the condition of the island’s farmers, chief of which is the establishment of a US$200 million 30-year rural development bond.
Senator Grant, who was making his contribution to the State of the Nation Debate in Gordon House on Thursday (Feb. 16), said that the bond would represent a workable solution for sustainable road repairs in rural Jamaica.
He suggested that the bond could be floated at a coupon rate, which would be pegged to the inflation rate plus one per cent, with tax free interest, and made payable after one year of the issue date without penalty. Senator Grant said the instrument could also be transferable after 15 years.
He noted that the facility would attract investors both nationally and internationally and recommended that local companies, which invested, should benefit from tax breaks. “This money should be used for nothing else but improving the road network in rural communities and general infrastructure,” the JAS President said.
In the meantime, Senator Grant also proposed that all farm roads inclusive of parish council roads and those manned by the National Works Agency, be placed under a central authority, which would have sole responsibility for the repair of the roads in a timely manner.
Senator Grant argued that this measure would give more focus to rural road repairs “particularly at a time when resources are scarce”. Furthermore, he said the approach would not necessarily take away autonomy from the local authority.
Turning to the recently launched Farmer’s Health Care Plan, under which 1,600 farmers have already been registered, Senator Grant said more was to come, as the JAS intended to venture into providing a pension and savings plan along with crop insurance for farmers.
The JAS President noted that the initiative would provide a structured approach, adding that many farmers, after working for years, upon retiring, had no investments to rely upon.

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