The government will soon re-impose duties on granulated sugar imported for manufacturing under a new rebate regime as a means to tackle the illegal leakage of the product unto the retail market.
Agriculture Minister, Audley Shaw, made the announcement this afternoon while addressing a meeting of the Sugar Industry Authority.
He says the move has become necessary to counter rampant corruption in the importation of sugar which he believes is crippling the local industry.
“Utterly corrupt!” is Agriculture Minister, Audley Shaw’s assessment of the current sugar importation regime.
Minister Shaw says this may necessitate that all duties on sugar to be used in manufacturing must now be paid up-front and be refunded at a later date.
Just last year, the then Jamaica Manufacturers Association, took issue with then Agriculture Minister, Karl Samuda, who voiced a similar concern.
At the time, JMA head, Metry Seaga, called Mr. Samuda’s allegations baseless. But a strident Minister Shaw says he has obtained conclusive evidence of the illicit activity.
He says he’s putting manufacturers on notice, since they’ve failed to safeguard the system they’ve been benefiting from.
However, he’s assuring manufacturers that they will not be put at a disadvantage.
Meanwhile, Chairman of the All-Island Jamaica Cane Farmers’ Association, Allan Rickards, is welcoming the Minister’s decision.
He says it’s a much-needed step towards revitalizing the sugar industry.
Mr. Rickards says the corruption in the importation of sugar is evident. He praised the Agriculture Minister for his courage in tackling what he sees as a longstanding issue.
However, he says this alone will not save the sugar industry. Mr. Rickards says he’ll be presenting recommendations to the Minister which he believes can help the industry.