Deal finally signed for multi-purpose sugar factory
The Freundel Stuart administration is in a position to start construction on its proposed state-of-the-art multi-purpose sugar facility at Andrews in St Joseph this year, after months of doubt and controversy surrounding the project.
The Inter-Sugar Partnership (ISP) today announced it had signed an agreement with Government that not only opens the way for Barbados to borrow US$250 million from the US-based National Standards Finance (NSF) to fund the Cane Industry Restructuring Project (CIRP), but also to begin building the facility.
Under the arrangement, construction would begin no later than September in order for it to be completed in time for the 2017 sugar crop.
More than 300 people are expected to work on the project that would provide additional long-term employment for traditional seasonal workers.
The agreement calls for a facility which would generate 25 megawatts of green electricity annually, and the further potential use of 60 megawatts of waste heat from electricity generation.
In a statement issued today, the ISP explained that would make the multi-purpose factory self-sufficient and allow it to generate an additional 22 megawatts that would provide power to a large number of Barbadian households and businesses, thereby reducing the island’s dependency on oil imports.
New farm equipment would also be introduced under the arrangement, as well as training for field staff and increased global marketing of Barbados’ sugar cane industry.
Once completed, the multi-purpose factory will manufacture raw brown sugar for domestic consumption, produce and refine premium specialty sugars for sale to niche markets, increase output of molasses for the Barbados rum industry, and generate 25 megawatts of green electricity fuelled by cane bagasse and sustainable locally produced biomass.
The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding partners the Barbados Cane Industry Corporation – set up in 2007 by Government to promote the project – with ISP and its partners.
The ISP statement said the agreement represented the final hurdle to proceeding with the project and it would now recommence advanced discussions with international financial institutions to secure the funding for the venture.
Minister of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Water Resources Management Dr David Estwick said the project would have “a positive impact on the island in many ways”.
“Not only will it create jobs and value through both the construction and operating of the factory, it will also result in welcomed cost savings for the Government and the country as a whole,” he said.
The minister said the project would enable the island to rebuild a proud and historic industry while providing a multitude of financial benefits to the economy.
Director of ISP Edward Marston added: “We are delighted to have signed this agreement and look forward to playing a vital and long-term role in the economic, environmental and social development of Barbados by enabling the island to reclaim its reputation as one of the leading producers of premium sugar products in the world.”
The future of the CIRP was thrown into doubt late last year when the original investors pulled out over concerns about Barbados’ credit rating. On the heels of that development, Estwick and Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler were at odds over funding for the project, with the Agriculture Minister going as far as writing to Prime MInister Stuart asking him to reprimand his colleague for presenting inaccurate information on the project to Cabinet.