The Pan Caribbean Sugar Company is to keep the Monymusk Sugar Factory in Clarendon opened until next year despite recent concerns over its profitability.

That’s according to Agriculture Minister, Karl Samuda.

Addressing a media briefing today at the Ministry’s office in St Andrew, Minister Samuda says a deal has been struck to keep the factory, which employs almost 700 people, open.

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A newspaper report last month noted that Pan Caribbean was planning to dispose of the Monymusk factory as it wasn’t profitable.

Pan Caribbean was reportedly operating at a USD$60-million loss and was processing sugar below its total capacity.

Minister Samuda says the company has agreed to keep the factory open — for now– under specific conditions.

He says this includes the return of 25,000 acres of leased sugar land to the government.

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According to Minister Samuda, the company will be allowed to import and sell refined sugar on the retail market as another means of raising revenue.

While the deal doesn’t speak to the long-term viability of the factory, Minister Samuda says he’s hopeful they’ll be able to increase sugarcane production thus convincing Pan Caribbean to keep the factory opened longer.

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Meanwhile, Minister Samuda has announced that refined sugar will now be imported into the local retail market under strict a quota.

This will be enforced by the Sugar Industry Authority, SIA.

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He says this will help avoid sugar imported for manufacturing purposes leaking into the retail trade.

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Manufacturers were angered when plans for a possible tax on imported refined sugar was contemplated by the Ministry last year as a means to stop the leakage.

But Minister Samuda says this new arrangement will remove the need for the tax. He says both refined and brown sugar must only be sold in pre-approved packages provided by the SIA.

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Karl Samuda says failure to comply with the new regulations by any retail outlet will result in a $3-million fine.