Independent Senator Sir Henry Fraser today demanded to know how Government intended to spend the $73 million which the administration was seeking to guarantee for the sugar industry.
The Senate today debated – and approved – a resolution to back a $73 million bond issue for the Barbados Agricultural Management Company to provide “working capital support to the company, and to provide funding to support the company’s expenses and costs relating to the Barbados Cane Industry Support Project”.
In his contribution to the debate Sir Henry said the resolution was lean on details of what the money would be used for, and he demanded to see a plan.
“Where is your business plan?” he asked.
“What do you want this money from us for? What are you going to do with it? I’m not seeing that in this resolution.
“I’m not exactly clear what this $73 million has been spent on, or will be spent on. General references were made . . . [but] I’m not sure whether this is to cover losses, to cover development, exactly how that will go. If I were a businessman, I would want to see the business plan as to where the money is going,” he added.
Sir Henry contended that the decline in the sugar industry, and agriculture generally, was proof that those areas of production had not been efficiently managed; therefore, Barbadians would be interested in “some degree of transparency”.
In response, Government’s point person in the Senate Maxine McClean said it was not normal for such a resolution to include a business plan.
However, Government Senator Darcy Boyce explained that some of the funds would go to farming on agricultural lands that are now idle, and some would be spent on raising the sugar yield from the canes.