Based on reports in the news media, the Governor of the Central Bank has again made a pronouncement on the state of the sugar industry.
He has again painted another dismal picture, saying the industry is ailing, but the sector is not dead and “we have to think about what we want to do with sugar cane, as distinct from sugar output, going forward”.
It was approximately five years ago that former Prime Minister Freundel Stuart revealed that there would have been a restructuring of the industry by moving away from the production of bulk sugar, concentrating on specialty sugars and further use of the industry as a source of energy.
If Government is supposed to be a continuum, why has it taken 60 calendar months before the sugar cane industry can be transformed into a viable and sustainable component of the economy?
Since the beginning of the 1970s there had been a steady decline in local sugar production simultaneously with an increase of competition from European beet sugar and high fructose corn syrup, yet no successful resuscitation of the industry has ever been achieved to date.
If, according to the Governor of the Central Bank, the sugar cane industry is ailing but not dead, then allow me to say that it is moribund to the point where it is lacking in vitality and vigour on a path towards terminal decline.
Data for the year 2018 showed that non-sugar agriculture as part of the gross domestic product out-performed sugar cane more than 19 times and for the year 2019, more than 26 times.
This steady non-stop decline in sugar production without any turnaround for almost 50 years is untenable and if a way cannot be found to go forward, then the Government has an obligation to remove itself and taxpayers as stakeholders in the industry.