Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 30th 2017 Contents BG20 | REGIONAL
BUSINESS GUARDIAN guardian.co.tt MARCH 30 • 2017
...Govt announces new
initiative to revive ailing
The Grenada government has announced new plans
for the revitalisation of the agricultural sector in-
cluding the commercialisation of government owned
estates before year end and the liberalisation of the
Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell told a news con-
ference that the plans are also to make use of the small
business initiative to target government lands for
young farmers and restore direct flights from Gre-
nada to New York in a bid to revive the country's fish
export to the overseas market.
Grenada is regarded as a major exporter of fish to the
United States among the nine-member Organisation
of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) but a decision
by the Trinidad-based Caribbean Airlines (CAL) to
withdraw its director flight from St George's to New
York, a year ago, has hampered the fishing sector.
Prime Minister Mitchell told reporters that the new
measures to revitalise the agricultural sector need to
be implemented as quickly as possible.
"The process has been slow, much slower than we
want it to be. I wish I could have done it overnight.
But you have to bring stakeholders and their partners
on board and in the process we have missed some
timelines as far as that initiative is concerned," he said.
"But we are on the road to this, so a number of our
estates before the end of this year will be commercial-
ised with certain guidelines for development and for
production and for employment in the agricultural
sector as a whole".
Last week, the Washington-based Internation-
al Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that while the
main drivers of growth in the local economy were
construction and tourism, agriculture experienced
The Grenada government Tuesday said it had
reached an agreement with two trade unions here
that were originally refusing to accept the financial
package for the period 2013-16.
Labour Minister Oliver Joseph told the House of
Representatives that the agreement with the Public
Workers Union (PWU) and the Grenada Technical and
Allied Workers Union (GTAWU) had been reached
on Monday night.
The two unions were the last to finalise the agree-
ment package for public workers and only last week
staged industrial action in the form of a go slow.
The unions were refusing to accept EC$1,000 (EC$1
=US$0.37) as a one off payment for the period 2013
to 2016, demanding instead a payment of EC$3,000.
The Keith Mitchell government said that the initial
offer to the unions were in keeping with the provisions
of the home-grown structural adjustment programme
that the island was implementing with the support
of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The government said the EC$1000 was a one off
payment in recognition of the sacrifice made by the
workers during the period of the structural adjustment
programme. Joseph said that at the conclusion of the
negotiations on Tuesday, an agreement was signed
resulting in an increase of 10 per cent salary between
the period 2017 to 2019 and the one of payment for
the period 2013 to 2016.
"The difference here is that if the fiscal space allow,
there will be a renegotiation in July 2017 to make any
adjustment to one of payment," said Joseph, who said
that although government ministers are classified as
public officers no ministers will be given the one off
payment or enjoy salary increase. CMC Caribbean govts urged
to protect sugar industry
Caribbean stakeholders say
it is time regional coun-
tries provide some level of
protection to the regional
sugar industry even as they
acknowledge the need to
modernise the sector as impending changes
in Europe could result in a drop in the price
for the commodity.
A joint statement issued by the Sugar As-
sociation of the Caribbean and the Caribbean
Council following a two-day meeting that
examined the Caribbean Sugar Industry
Post-2017, noted that the region needed
to "urgently refocus our attention on our
own market in the region.
"Governments around the world give
tariff protection to their own sugar indus-
tries, yet in the Caribbean we are currently
losing out to imported sugar from outside
the region. It is time to modernise our ap-
proach to sugar.
"The net cost effect of tariff protection to
consumers will be negligible but it will give
our industry the ability to attract invest-
ment, mechanise the industry and provide
quality jobs and a sustainable future for the
"We urge our Ministers to adopt the rec-
ommendations in the industry position pa-
per we have published today and to take back
control of the destiny of the industry. The
industry stands ready to play its part -- and
we have set out the ways in which we will
work to create new efficiencies and produc-
tivity across the sector," the joint statement
noted following the meeting that ended here
over the last weekend.
The two-day meeting was held in col-
laboration with the Caribbean Council,
the Guyana-based Caribbean Community
(Caricom) Secretariat and the Jamaica pro-
motions Corporation (Jampro).
It was funded by the European Union,
the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office,
ASR Group, and the Inter-American Devel-
opment Bank (IDB) and brought together
industry leaders and policy makers for an
in-depth discussion on how the Caribbean
sugar industry now needs to adapt to the
new market realities.
Delegates will also discuss the policy op-
tions which are available to both industry
and regional governments.
The recommendations of the industry
workshop were presented to the sixth meet-
ing of the Caricom Stakeholders on Sugar
held here last Friday.
Managing director of the Caribbean Coun-
cil, Chris Bennett, said the "exciting range
of ideas and opportunity which have been
presented by Caribbean industry specialists
...demonstrates that Caribbean sugar can be
a modern and high value component to the
21st century Caribbean economy.
"The framework for trade needs to be
modernised also to reflect that the Carib-
bean no longer can or should depend on the
EU market as a guaranteed buyer.
"The trade and tariff policies required are
straightforward and applied all around the
rest of the world. There is an urgent need for
the Caribbean Single Market and Economy
to put in place the equivalent protections as
soon as possible," he added.
Earlier, a senior official of the Caricom
Secretariat had warned that the ability of
sugar industry in the region to survive after
the removal of production quotas in the Eu-
ropean Union on September 30, will depend
on improved competitiveness and pragmatic
The end of EU's quota management for
sugar is expected to lead to a fall in prices
towards the international sugar price and a
decrease in sugar imports from the African
Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) states, with
particular impact on Caribbean producers.
Caricom Secretariat programme manager,
agriculture and industry, Nisa Surujbally,
said that securing more remunerative mar-
kets, value addition and an enabling policy
regime within the CSME were also very im-
portant to the industry's survival.
"We have witnessed major structural
changes in the operations of our sugar in-
dustries, including the exit from sugar pro-
duction of two Member States, Trinidad and
Tobago and St Kitts and Nevis. Nevertheless,
we are mindful of the vital role and contri-
bution of the sugar sectors to the economies
of Barbados, Belize, Guyana and Jamaica.
"Survivability of these industries, after the
removal of production quotas in the EU on
September 30 2017, will in no small measure
be a function of improved competitiveness,
securing more remunerative markets, value
addition, an enabling policy regime within
the Caricom Single Market and Economy,
and, not lastly, practical and pragmatic di-
"I say this as a technical official while
being acutely aware of the emotional asso-
ciations we have with our Region's oldest
economic sector. This industry is respon-
sible for us being here and has coloured our
history from colonisation, to slavery to in-
dentureship and to independence. It is not
an easy time! Now is crunch time"
, she said.
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