Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 23rd 2015 Contents A8
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Friday, January 23, 2015
Twelve years after the closure of the sugar cane
industry, Cabinet has finally approved $130 million
compensation for cane farmers to be used for agri-
The funds were provided by the European Union
(EU) to address the negative social and economic
impact of the closure of Caroni (1975) Limited in 2003.
During a meeting with four cane-farming groups
on Wednesday, Planning Minister Dr Bhoendradatt
Tewarie announced that Cabinet had approved the
disbursement of funds to be used for the benefit of
private cane farmers and cane cutters.
Tewarie, who is the national authorising officer for
the EU Grant Resources, said the schedule for dis-
bursement highlights a first tranche of $27 million,
followed by a second tranche of $75 million and a
third tranche of $28 million to be paid in 2016.
He said once the groups agree, a technical committee,
led by the permanent secretary of the Ministry of
Planning and Sustainable Development, including
representatives of the Ministry of Food Production
and representatives of the cane farmers, would develop
a suitable formula for equitable distribution of the
Food Production Minister Devant Maharaj, repre-
sentatives of the Cane Producers Association of T&T,
the Cane Farmers Co-operative, Trinidad Islandwide
Cane Farmers Association and Direct Delivery Cane
Farmers Co-operative and EU representative Kathrin
Renner were also present at the meeting.
Contacted for comment yesterday, president of the
Cane Producers Association Seukeran Tambie said
the $130 million would not be given directly to cane
Based on a strategic business plan submitted by
the association in 2013, Tambie said the funds would
be used to set up several agricultural projects, including
commercial hot peppers, citrus and mixed crop,
aquaponics, rabbit-rearing and sheep and goat farm-
Tambie said a needs-based analysis report would
be done in the former sugar belt.
Saying cane farmers were overlooked when com-
pensation was distributed to sugar workers in 2003,
Tambie added: "I am pleased that after so many years
Cabinet has given final approval the funding to be
used for the benefit of cane farmers."
Tambie said when the industry was closed in 2003,
more than 6,000 cane farmers and 3,000 cane cutters
were left on the breadline.
He said suicide rates climbed, families broke up
and poverty peaked. Tambie said all of the former
cane cutters and farmers would be located and a tech-
nical team would co-ordinate resources. He said
another meeting would be held among stakeholders
The Joint Trade Union Movement
(JTUM) yesterday declined an invitation
to discuss issues related to the economy
and the energy sector with Prime Minister
Kamla Persad-Bissessar, calling the invi-
tation disrespectful and labelling it a public
However yesterday, while meeting with
17 trade unions and workers association
at the Diplomatic Center, St Ann s, Per-
sad-Bissessar said there was no disrespect
Yesterday, speaking on behalf of JTUM
at a press conference at Communication
Workers Union Hall on Henry Street, Pres-
ident General of the Oilfield Workers Trade
Union (OWTU) Ancel Roget announced
that JTUM members had decided to stay
clear of the meeting.
The meeting called on unions to discuss,
"the turbulence in the global energy sector
and the impact of lower oil prices on
economies" such as T&T s.
Roget, who said the JTUM was about
seeking the interest of the development
and the progress and the welfare and well
being of T&T, said the unions would spare
no effort to ensure that all citizens, all
members and workers were protected in
good times and bad times.
He said members of JTUM had decided
not to attend the meeting as they felt the
invitation had come as an afterthought.
Roget said it was an invitation to get
involved in a "massive public relations exer-
cise" of the Government for Persad-Bisses-
sar to portray herself of being in control.
"The Prime Minister and the Minister
of Labour who signed this invitation, carry
absolute knowledge of all the unions in this
country and their leadership and structures
and so on and therefore we felt afronted
and disrespected to have received a piece
of correspondence signed by the Minister
of Labour on behalf of the Prime Minister
addressing us as dear stakeholder."
JTUM blanks meeting with PM
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