Sugar twist

Govt seeks to bring Andrews sugar project back to life

A fresh attempt is being made to bring the stalled Andrews sugar project in St Joseph back to life.

Nearly one-and-a-half years after the High Court upheld an injunction by Andrews Great House owner Emile Peter Elias to shut down the US$250 million venture, Government is returning to court to argue that the wrong officials were sued.

With the project on life support, Elias’ attorney Ebrahim Lakhi told Barbados TODAY the Freundel Stuart administration had applied to the court to have Chief Town Planner Mark Cummins and the Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite, QC, removed as the subjects of the injunction.

He said the administration was contending that it was Stuart, in his capacity as Minister responsible for Town Planning, who should have been sued in the first place. Lakhi said the authorities were objecting to the judicial review application which said the chief town planner had exceeded his jurisdiction in granting planning permission for the project.

“Their point is that it [the application] was never before his [Cummins] desk, so we should really be suing the Prime Minister.

“So that application [to sue only the Prime Minister] is now coming before the court and our response to that is basically, ‘let’s just add the Prime Minister as a third party,’” the attorney-at-law said.

Lakhi revealed that the court had ordered that the issue be dealt with by way of submissions, and Government was to file its submissions by June 30, with the response scheduled for July 28.

“They didn’t file their submissions . . . [but] we did file ours,” the attorney told Barbados TODAY this afternoon.

Mark Cummins, Adriel Brathwaite, QC and Prime Minister Freundel Stuart

Lakhi said although the court is on holiday, his team had been trying to expedite the latest hearing because the case had dragged on for much too long.

He noted that the court could either move forward and make a decision based on the submissions filed, or set a new date for the State to file its written submissions, failing which the court could make a final ruling.

The multi-million dollar scheme, part of the much-touted Cane Industry Restructuring Project (CIRP), and a pet project of Minister of Agriculture Dr David Estwick, had been the subject of much feuding between Estwick and Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler.

Estwick had complained that his Cabinet colleague had been tampering with funding for the project.

In fact, back in February 2015, he wrote to Stuart complaining that officials of the Ministry of Finance, on Sinckler’s instructions, had bypassed his office and issued instructions to the general manager of the Barbados Agricultural Management Company (BAMC) that were not in keeping with Cabinet decisions.

The matter surrounded a long-awaited loan from ANSA Merchant Bank of Trinidad, which he said was secured specifically to restructure the local sugar industry, but which the Ministry of Finance was asking BAMC to use to pay wages, salaries, vacation pay and Simpson Oil Limited.

In the injunction filed by Elias in 2016, Cummins was named as first respondent and Brathwaite as the second respondent.

The court had also granted a second interim injunction prohibiting Cummins or the Prime Minister, in his capacity as Minister responsible for Town Planning, from granting permission for any related work to be undertaken at, or around, the site.

The troubled project was to include the construction of a state-of-the-art multi-purpose facility, providing employment of over 300 workers and generating 25 megawatts (MW) of green electricity annually, with the further potential for 60MW of waste heat from electricity generation, making the plant self-sufficient.

It was also expected to generate an additional 22MW for Barbadian households and businesses.

Construction was due to begin in 2015, with completion in time for the 2017 crop.

Meanwhile, General Manager of the state-run BAMC Leslie Parris told Barbados TODAY this afternoon that cane farmers, who had been urged to plant more to adequately fuel the proposed multi-purpose factory, were making progress towards their target of 350,000 tonnes of cane.

Parris said while cane production stood at 83,360 tonnes last year, this year’s production had jumped to 132,845 tonnes.

“So we are well under way to achieving that target. The trending is favourable,” Parris said.

“Those cane yields translated to 7,026 tonnes of sugar in the 2015-2016 year and 10,102 tonnes of sugar in the 2016-2017 year,” he added.

When contacted, Estwick would not comment, promising instead to speak on the issues surrounding the project in due course.

emmanueljoseph@barbadostoday.bb

5 Responses to Sugar twist

  1. John Everatt August 17, 2017 at 1:16 am

    Geez, Sugar is dead here. There is no production and the government wants to spend huge amounts of money to build a processing plant for cane that is just not there. Face it, we can not compete on the world market in sugar so you are kicking a dead horse if you throw good money after bad on this.

    Reply
  2. DE August 17, 2017 at 7:55 am

    This present government is a disaster to this island. Other government has fail the nation, but this present one has destroyed it. They take most of the good agriculture land and put it into housing, some into some stupid cane that was to produce energy that never materialized and every year sending harvesters to chop them down and the rest of it gone into bush and trees.

    This government always start with the cart first and then put the horse behind. They take all the Belle Plantation land and plant it in river tamarind to power the said project at Andrews, the river tamarind down there growing wild and the project hasn’t even started.

    This government has a bunch of bullies, that is why they have so many injunctions against projects that they want to develop. They think that they can do as they like without consultation or discussion with the residence of the areas.

    Reply
  3. Milli Watt August 17, 2017 at 9:28 am

    this crowd likes to waste time and spend tax dollars on the obvious. would not mind being a lawyer at all. SUGAR DEAD ALL WUNNAH KILL HE …..NOW PAY ME MY TAX REFUND

    Reply
  4. Jennifer August 17, 2017 at 11:04 am

    Now u see why we so badly need waste management skills. Nothing but a wastage of money. Tax after tax, then throwing good money after bad, then tax again when we still in the hole. And the cycle of nonsense continues.

    Reply
  5. Belfast August 17, 2017 at 5:42 pm

    Wait! these Rihanna expletives have just woken up?

    Reply

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