Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley has reiterated that Government is not prepared to operate in the sugar sector as it has in the past, as she disclosed that discussions were ongoing with the private sector about the sugar factory.
Ms. Mottley made the comments today as she addressed a ceremony to hand over mobile lunchrooms and sanitary facilities, at the Barbados Agricultural Management Company (BAMC), Warrens, St. Michael. Officials of the National Erosion Control and Aquifer Recharge Programme made the presentation to the BAMC.
The Prime Minister said: “We have said as a Government therefore, once we get the right public-private mix, we are prepared to ensure that the one sugar factory is capable of operating as a renewable energy factory, thereby earning revenue not just three months a year from a sugar crop, but earning revenue for 12 months…. Those discussions are…going on now, and I anticipate that we have to reach some kind of conclusion before the end of the fiscal year, which is the end of March.
“Government is not walking away, but Government is not prepared to continue to operate in the sugar sector as it has in the past. And to that extent, therefore, we believe that by us putting additional options on the table from a policy perspective, particularly the renewable energy option, that we can create a framework that will allow both those in the private sector and those in the public space to function as a win-win opportunity for us all.”
Ms. Mottley noted that a sugar factory which worked only three months of the year could not create the financial stability for an industry that was selling at a price below its cost of production.
“It therefore means that there has to be alternative sources of revenue or increase options for the products that you produce, with higher value added, such that you can change the price relationship of loss that you now have with your production,” she stated.
With regard to the mobile facilities, the Prime Minister underscored their importance, saying that there was a class of worker who had been forgotten in modern Barbados and there was a solemn duty to correct the situation. She stressed that various things had been done over the years to promote the well-being of workers.
“We are correcting a clear injustice that has literally been faced by our agricultural workers for too long, but in particular by the women who work in agriculture,” she said.
The mobile lunchroom and sanitary facilities, which were manufactured by L & N Workshop Inc., are outfitted with sanitisers, solar panels, and the workers may charge their cell phones.