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Gov’t moving to avoid collapse of sugar industry

Support for the team: (FROM LEFT) Peter Gilkes, Senator Harry Husbands and Andre Worrell.

Support for the team: (FROM LEFT) Peter Gilkes, Senator Harry Husbands and Andre Worrell.

The Barbados Government today announced its intention to implement a $540 million project, starting in the first quarter of next year, designed to help avoid the pending collapse of the sugar industry and result in its restructuring.

In his Budget presentation to the House of Assembly, Minister of Finance, Chris Sinckler, said negotiations with all stakeholders, including the workers representatives have already started and the Ministry of Agriculture would be outlining details of the project in the coming weeks. However, Sinckler said the Barbados Cane Industry Project, as it’s called, will see the re-engineering of an existing sugar factory, to allow it to engage multiple applications, including the production of biomass for the generation of electricity.

Work on the venture, which is being funded by the Japanese, will last for three years.

“It will radically reform sugar agriculture, while having very positive spin-off effects on non-sugar crop production,” the Finance Minister noted.

“With this process well on the way, it is Government’s intention to forge ahead with other initiatives in the short- term, to give a boost to the local agriculture sector, including the creation of a $2 million grant initiative, specifically for small farmers to engage in crop production,” he told the House of Assembly.

“This initiative will be established and run by the BAS in consultation with the Ministry of Agriculture.”

He revealed that the Ministry of Finance in consultation with the Ministry of Agriculture and the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association, would be proposing a special programme to incentivise local hotels to use more local produce in their operations.

Sinckler warned that while concessions would continue to be given freely to hotels well into the future, it was the intention of the Government to institute a policy that would tie future requests for concessions and waivers,

to “a demonstrable use of domestic produce and even manufactures”. (EJ)

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