The Jamaica Manufacturers’ Association (JMA) has given the Industry Minister, Karl Samuda, an ultimatum to withdraw comments he made yesterday at a press conference.

The JMA says Minister Samuda’s comments are unsubstantiated, unjustifiable and defamatory.

Minister Samuda yesterday repeated a claim that some manufacturers import refined sugar and sell some of it on the retail market.

This essentially means they cheat the system as they don’t pay import duties for the refined sugar they are to use as an input in their products. But the JMA has responded strongly, denying that claim.

It wants the Industry Minister to withdraw it within seven days.

The JMA is demanding that Minister Samuda provide evidence of his claim. Or retract it.

Minister Samuda repeated the claim at his press conference yesterday where he announced changes to the regime governing the importation of refined sugar.

The changes are aimed at cracking down on the alleged practice.

An incensed JMA President, Metry Seaga, today said the Minister has all but accused manufacturers of a crime.

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When pressed yesterday Minister Samuda was unable to say how many manufacturers are guilty of the alleged practice. But he said there’s sufficient evidence.

Mr. Seaga says he’ll no longer allow his members to be defamed.

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He says this type of behavior from someone of high office is irresponsible and slanderous.

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Mr. Seaga was speaking at the JMA’s office on Duke Street in downtown, Kingston Thursday afternoon. He says if this demand is not met within seven days action will be taken. However, he did not say what form such action would take.