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PNP joins call for Shaw to turn over info on illegal sugar importers to authorities

Thursday, September 06, 2018

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — The People's National Party (PNP) has joined the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC) in its call for Minister of Agriculture, Audley Shaw to relay information he has on the illegal distribution of granulated sugar to the relevant authorities and allow for a full investigation into the issue.

The Parliamentary Opposition, in a statement today, urged Shaw to do what is necessary to resolve this situation and emphasised that, in facilitating this process, the minister should immediately hand over all information and/or leads that he said “… are more than anecdotal”.

The PNP also chided the minister for his “broad-brush approach against public servants and legitimate businesses,” when he reportedly stated that: “corruption is everywhere including at customs and among so-called brokers who are brokering on behalf of the manufacturers who import the sugar duty free”.

The party said such claims should be substantiated with facts to ensure the protection of legitimate manufacturing or brokerage operations while resolving this issue.

Shaw made the utterances on Tuesday when he announced that manufacturers who import white sugar will now be required to pay the duty upfront and be reimbursed by the Government within 30 days.

Meanwhile, the Opposition recalled a recent meeting in Frome, Westmoreland, where it said sugarcane farmers reported that the very slow sale of locally produced brown sugar was causing cash flow issues for their manufacturers who have significant amounts of sugar remaining in storage.

“This has resulted in late payments to farmers, creating a major money crisis and a slowdown of field production, hence many have been forced to abandon the cane fields,” the party said.

It also expressed that there must be a solution to this problem as for some time, stakeholders in the sugar industry have lamented that this purported leakage has been a major impediment to the overall viability of the industry.

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