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JAMAICA | Basil Waite laments the impending closure of Appleton Estates

  • Written by Wiredja Newsdesk
  • Published in Agriculture
St Elizabeth, Jamaica, July 21, 2020:  People’s National Party’s parliamentary candidate for North East St. Elizabeth, Mr. Basil Waite, is expressing grave concerns for the livelihood of thousands of families in the parish, following reports of the impending closure of the sugar factory operations at the Appleton Estate.

He said the management of Wray & Nephew, owners of Appleton Estate, met with the unionized workers’ representatives in Kingston yesterday. Arising from the discussions, its understood that workers will be made redundant by the end of August 2020. 

If this is indeed the case, he said the decision provided no opportunity for a smooth transition; no chance to create alternative income and no planned diversification of the local economy.  

Waite said there will be absolutely nothing to cushion the certain devastation that will be brought on by this action. 

Since the closure of Alpart, Appleton is the largest employer in the parish and is the lifeblood of the economy in St Elizabeth’s northern belt, Mr Waite said. 

“It is not that a future without sugar cannot be contemplated. However, we are concerned that the undue haste with which this is being done without proper consultation is bound to exacerbate the certain economic and social disruption. We are of the view that sufficient consultations have not been carried out as to possible options that could be explored to keep the factory in operation,” Mr Waite lamented. 

While acknowledging that the utterances of the Prime Minister and the actions of this Administration to date, do not suggest that this Andrew Holness-led Government believes in a viable future for sugar, Mr Waite is suggesting that the Government engages Wray & Nephew with a view of them acquiring the capability of producing ‘Plantation White’ sugar for use in our local manufacturing industry.

This would also require that the Government supports discussions at CARICOM to apply a forty per cent Common External Tariff to white sugar manufactured outside the region, as is done for brown sugar. 

“The fact is that Jamaica has never produced a grain of white sugar, yet we import 70,000 tons of granulated sugar per year; almost double the 40,000 tons of brown sugar we consume per year.

The same brown sugar we produce, in some instances, might have been re-processed and sold locally. Belize has led the way on this, and Guyana is following suit. Jamaica, meanwhile, is trapped in the paralysis of analysis.” Mr Waite explained that these bold decisions are required to preserve what is left of the sugarcane industry, which directly affects at least eight parishes. 

“Perhaps things could have been different if the then Minister with oversight of the Agriculture portfolio had last year engaged the management of Appleton, rather than engaging in a messy frolic of his own, in the divestment of Holland Estate lands rife with allegations of corruption, cronyism, and nepotism,” Mr Waite said.

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Last modified onTuesday, 21 July 2020 17:15
  • Countries: Jamaica