Renewed Interest in Privatization of Sugar – Minister Clarke

Minister of Agriculture and Lands, Roger Clarke has said that with the surge of interest in ethanol, there has been a renewed interest in the privatisation of the local sugar industry.
This interest in ethanol, he noted, was brought about by the recent policy by the United States Government to reduce dependence on foreign oil imports.
Mr. Clarke made these remarks in his 2007/08 Budget presentation in Gordon House today (April 18).
“Jamaica’s own access to the United States market for this product under the Caribbean basin initiative has put us in a very advantageous position,” said Mr. Clarke. As a result of this he pointed out, the government had reopened the pre-qualification bidding process to accommodate some compelling interest.”
Mr. Clarke informed that the Ministry has now formulated the privatisation framework, which would guide the modalities for the privatization process. “We confidently expect to conclude with a successful investor with the expertise and resources to seize these opportunities,” he indicated.
Continuing, Mr. Clarke said, “Whether the investors will do ethanol or a combination of ethanol and sugar, the future is bright and sweet for the industry. The continued diversion of sugar into ethanol in Brazil is causing the price of sugar to rise on the world market. The fact that sugar cane yields eight times more ethanol than corn as a feedstock augurs well for the industry”.
In the meantime he noted that the European Union had allocated the more than 15,000 tonnes shortfall created by St. Kitts, to the Caribbean.
Mr. Clarke added that the Ministry had intentions to “fight rigorously” to secure as much of the quota as possible that would be made available when Trinidad got out of sugar production, as that country has indicated.
“The bottom line is whether ethanol or sugar we need to produce much more sugarcane, through expanded acreages and increased productivity,” he stated.

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