Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler says urgent financial help is on the way for the dying sugar industry.
Delivering the feature address at the annual general assembly of the Barbados Agricultural Society at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre this morning, Sinckler announced that the Ministry of Agriculture, which is led by Dr David Estwick, and the Barbados Agricultural Management Company, the BAMC, were in an “advance stage” of concluding a facility through the Ansa Merchant Bank of Trinidad and Tobago for an injection of $60 million.
“I am also advised that the first $30 million [from that facility] should become available in the next few weeks, once final terms are agreed between the parties and signed off by the Ministry of Finance and the Cabinet of Barbados,” Sinckler said.
The Minister of Finance said the money was needed in the short term not only pay farmers for their contributions to the last crop and for the preparation of the next two to three crops, but also to ensure that the BAMC, as the agency designated by Government to oversee the industry’s affairs, “can advance initiatives for the transformation and upgrading of existing acreage and possibly new acreage under cultivation”.
Sinckler said this work will be absolutely critical “for the upstream transformation and the build out of a new multi-purpose factory to diversify and differentiate the function of the current sugar industry into a sugar cane value added enterprise.
“It will be utilising multiple applications, including the generation of electricity, spread cost, enhance efficiencies, grow earnings and secure profits,” he told the gathering.