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Sweet Christmas news for Barbados

Dr. David Estwick

Dr. David Estwick

Two days before Christmas, Government and the Japanese Bank for International Corporation will sign a US$200 million engineering procurement contract to start construction on a multi-purpose sugar factory between January and March next year.

“We intend to have that signed, and also in relation to the two supporting banks, these being HSBC and the Mitsubishi Bank of Japan, [as well as] Omega Insurance and the World Bank,” Minister of Agriculture Dr David Estwick told Barbados TODAY this afternoon.

“I am confident that in regards to that new facility, it can be strongly supported and . . . I am sure that moving the industry towards the path of value added is the correct decision to take,” declared the minister.

He said the decision to move the sugar industry away from just a sweetener to value added products along the value chain, was the right move for Barbados at this time, while noting that to do nothing would lead to a loss of 2,500 jobs by 2014.

Estwick also suggested that it was unfortunate that some people were saying the country should consider other product-mixes.

“Barbados is not going to be a guinea pig or test case for any unproven technology, and I say no more on that,” stated the government minister.

“I am sure the move to produce electricity is the right move, and I will also say that some who are now critical to remember that it was the Barbados Labour Party, who in regards to the European Union Adaptation Strategy, that started speciality sugars in Barbados.”

“All we are doing is refining the sugar to higher quality here in Barbados so that we [don’t have] to import white sugar and stop importing all the brown sugars that we now import, saving us close to $35 million in foreign exchange and producing 25 megawatts of electricity, to power 55,000 homes again, with a capacity to earn over $50 million,” declared Estwick.

He noted that the new factory would support the rum industry, which is responsible for bringing in $70 million in earnings per year.

“So we decided that the best thing to do, was to supplement the biomas side via river tamarind, but support the rum industry domestically by cane variety that gives us the quality of liquor that we can produce Grade “B” and Grade “A” molasses, which has high sugar quantities and as a result the rum industry can produce significantly more alcohol from the same quantum of molasses,” Estwick said. (EJ)

4 Responses to Sweet Christmas news for Barbados

  1. Tony Webster November 28, 2013 at 5:18 am

    This seems very “positive”…sorta, and it would be good news indeed, if we can afford using impoorted molasses. “Thinking positively”, I can see cane-blades all over the Scotland area, and all across barbados…if the PRICE we shall pay farmers, is viable. Will it? But why call it an “engineeering procuremant loan(s)”…and then talk about “construction” in the same breath? Will this $200M take us all the way to turning the key and rolling the mills…or is this just to get the engineering and construction plans ready? BT should ask the right questions on our behalf, as this is fundamentally opaque. At the very least.
    I also note that the agreement(s) are evidently not yet signed and dotted, but are “to be signed”. When? When do we start? When do we finish? Please usually do a lot better than this!

  2. Mac10 November 28, 2013 at 6:29 pm

    Sandals, Silver sands & this come in way over the $400 million the Gov is trying to save. Funny way to cut spending.

  3. Susan Alleyne November 30, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    I live in the Andrews area where this project is to be situated. According to the plan, the old factory will be demolished and a new one built, along with a power station to be fed on river tamarind. This will necessitate 100 trucks a day (and possibly at night) trundling up down from the east coast, where the river tamarind grows, with environmental consequences for the east coast and its tourism. There will also be greatly increased traffic of cane vehicles. The road system around Andrews is somehow expected to cope with all the extra traffic. Meanwhile, apart from one town hall meeting which was selectively advertised so many of those affected didn’t know about it and didn’t attend, the usual consulting process has not taken place, nor has there been an Environmental Impact Assessment report. On the financial side, a recent report by Joe Goddard in the Nation did the sums for the project and estimated a $20,335,000 loss; he expressed the hope that ‘those in possession of the financial study will now make it public to try and prove me wrong’. Landowner, Frances Chandler, also in the Nation (18/9/13), responded to the proposal with a claim that ‘A much simpler and cheaper alternative has been proposed but seems to have been ignored.’ At the town hall meeting, some of the attendees pointed out that Bulkeley would be a more suitable site for such a large industrial project, having a well-developed road system and not being in the middle of prime agricultural land with many adjacent residences. In the light of such objections as these, at the very least there should be a public debate and the full facts about the scale of the project and its long-term financial and environmental impact should be disclosed.

  4. John Seale December 1, 2013 at 3:40 am

    Re “proposed ” development of Andrews. The residents in the area were invited to an INFORMAL town hall meeting at which this development was discussed. Of those present, 99.9% objected to the idea as no information was forthcoming with regards to the impact this would have on the environment and their lives. These concerns included noise and traffic congestion as a result of trucks transporting the river tamarind from The Scotland District to the factory for fuel. Noise generated by a plant that will run for 48 weeks per year and also the accompanying dust and ash. Water supply concerns were also mentioned. Those present were advised that an Enviormental Impact Assessment would be conducted and PRESENTED AT A FORMAL PUBLIC MEETING TO BE WELL PUBLICIZED ACCORDING TO THE LAW.
    To date this has not happened and yet it seems that the “proposed” project is now a done deal. Furthermore there have been numerous reports in the press questioning the economic viability of this development. There have also been studies in the past carried out that suggest that other locations were better suited. However results of these studies (public documents) are unavailable to the public despite numerous requests for access. Should not this project be discussed in a more open forum then a decision taking in all pros and cons could be arrived at? Our main concern is the lack and witholdoing of information which we feel should be available. How else can one have an opinion or make a decision ?


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