Sugar industry still essential
Sat, 12/10/2016 - 12:00am
WHILE the island’s sugar industry is ailing, it remains a critical aspect of its economic and social development.
Finance Minister, Christopher Sinckler, used this reasoning as he tabled a resolution to guarantee the Barbados Agricultural Management Co. Ltd. (BAMC) a $73 million loan from the ANSA Merchant Bank in the Lower House earlier this week.
Sinckler insisted that the funds were not a new set of resources being apportioned, but resources that had been borrowed by the BAMC for the restructuring of the sugar industry and to assist with the operational requirements for the company.
Admitting that the entire sugar industry process has changed over the centuries, he claimed that the island could not just move away from it rapidly as this would have an impact on those 5 000 persons still involved directly and indirectly with the sector, explaining, “If we cut if off, we cut them off.”
Sinckler later continued, “I am not an agricultural expert and I am certainly not a sugar expert, but I know that if we take the example of what other countries have gone through and the environmental, ecological, economic, social and other challenges that have emerged for a disorderly exit out sugar, we know that Barbados, being the type of economy that it is, can ill-afford that type of luxury, if ever it could be defined as luxury.”
He therefore stressed that it was critical to “hasten slowly” to restructure the industry.
“We have, as the saying goes, hastened slowly to try to develop an appropriate response, first for a restructuring of what we believe ought to emerge from the remnants of what is left in the sugar industry, but understanding in the context that to exit without a particular set of things in place would be to create far greater damage to the Barbadian economy and society,” he stressed.
“This will salvage our industry, reform it and put it on a firm footing,” he told Parliament. (JMB)