KINGSTON, Jamaica – Opposition Leader Bruce Golding yesterday called for the sacking of the entire Sugar Company of Jamaica management because of what he said was its incompetence in managing the affairs of the country’s sugar industry.
Speaking in the House of Representatives in response to Prime Minister P.J. Patterson’s answering of his questions on the fate of the sugar industry, the Opposition Leader said there was gross neglect of duty by the SCJ, according to the Jamaica Gleaner.
Citing what he said was “one example of incompetence that has plagued the industry”, Mr. Golding said last year June, 12 rollers at the Monymusk Sugar Factory needed to be replaced. He claimed, however, that a purchase order was only issued in October, four months after the end of the sugar crop and three months before the start of the next crop.
“I can give you a list of similar examples and I really want to ask the Prime Minister whether the interest of Jamaica can be served by the continued retention of the existing management of the Sugar Company of Jamaica,” he queried.
In response, Mr. Patterson said matters pertaining to the portfolio responsibilities of individual ministers should be addressed by the respective minister.
Yesterday, Allan Rickards, chairman of the All Island Jamaica Cane Farmers’ Association (AIJCFA), said his organisation endorsed Mr. Golding’s sentiments.
“Mr. Golding’s comments reflect the feelings of the cane farmers across the country who are not prepared to go forward with this same SCJ management,” he told The Gleaner. Livingstone Morrison is the chief executive officer of the SCJ. Efforts to reach him yesterday were unsuccessful.
Mr. Patterson yesterday extended another invitation to the Opposition to discuss a report on the future of the country’s ailing sugar industry, in light of the completion of another report by the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ).
His invitation came a month after the European Commission (EC) said it would reduce by more than 39 per cent, the price for sugar exported to Europe by African, Caribbean and Pacific, (ACP) countries.
“From the time of the Henriques Report, I invited the Opposition to be privy and to contribute to the work and study that needed to be published,” the Prime Minister said.
“That invitation was not accepted then, I extend the invitation once again.”
In 2001, a task force, headed by Marjorie Henriques of the Ministry of Finance and Planning, recommended major restructuring of the sugar industry, including mergers and closures.
The Prime Minister said the future of the local sugar industry would be known by October this year when he makes a detailed statement to Parliament.