JIS News

Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Christopher Tufton, on (Oct. 2) said that Cabinet has approved the establishment of a negotiating team to evaluate tender proposals from eight companies that have been short-listed to bid for the five public sector sugar factories.
The team is comprised of, Aubyn Hill, Chairman of the Sugar Cane Enterprise Team; Ian Persaud, Vice Chairman of Jamaica Boilers Group; Sharon Webster, Manager of the Petro Caribe Development Fund; John Vassell, Attorney-at-Law; and Derrick Heaven, Chairman of the Sugar Industry Authority.
Dr. Tufton, who was speaking in the House of Representatives, said that the Government has left open the possibility of adding other persons to the team as the need arises.
He revealed that the eight companies short-listed are Angostura Limited from Trinidad and Tobago; Coimex of Brazil; Dhamphur Sugar Mills of India; Flo Sun Incorporated from the United States; Infinity Bio-Energy from Brazil; Stirling Partners from the Bahamas and Jamaican companies Energen Development Limited and J. Wray and Nephew Limited.
In the meantime, Dr. Tufton informed that the five public sector sugar estates managed by the Sugar Company of Jamaica Limited (SCJ) have accumulated debts amounting to $2.7 billion.
He noted that the SCJ now requires $2.7 billion to prepare for the 2007/08 sugar crop and the amount includes $1.3 billion for retooling and $1.4 billion to service debt.
“Privatization of public sector assets is expected to provide the financial and other resources, which are necessary to significantly improve efficiency and productivity at the public sector sugar estates,” Dr. Tufton stated.
The Minister assured that the social and economic fallout from the privatization of the five sugar companies will be addressed.
“In this regard, we have already commenced discussions with the trade unions on this issue. Comprehensive area development programmes for the sugar dependent areas will be implemented in tandem with the privatization process, using funds provided under the European Union’s accompanying measures for sugar,” he indicated.
The five sugar factories under consideration for privatisation are Monymusk in Clarendon; Bernard Lodge in St. Catherine; Frome Estates in Westmoreland; Duckenfield in St. Thomas; and Long Pond in Trelawny.