Senator the Honorable Devant Maharaj in collaboration with the Ministry of Food Production and Caroni Green Limited, wish to respond to the mischievous and purposely misleading comments made by Opposition Leader Dr. Keith Rowley during Friday’s budget debate. In his contribution the Member of Parliament for Diego Martin West, made several false allegations as it pertains to Caroni Green Limited similar to those previously iterated by Mr. Clarence Rambharat– all of which were previously dealt with in the senate.
Dr. Rowley stated that Caroni Green Limited had sent letters to its staff, effectively terminating their employment contracts on September 11th 2014, similar to the action taken in 2003 when the PNM closed Caroni 1975 thereby affecting the lives of 7,965 workers. Contrary to these allegations, the former employees of the CGL did in fact have decades of experience in agricultural production and were not fired, but reassigned to the Caroni 1975 Limited on a phased basis which was completed on August 31st2014.
Over the past year, Minister Devant Maharaj has kept a keen eye on the operation of the limited liability company to ensure its success, and to date it has not disappointed. As at August 31st 2014, 290 metric tonnes of produce had been harvested, with a further 350 tonnes of hot peppers, cassava, paw paw and sweet potato expected within the next quarter. In addition to this, land preparation is currently underway for the cultivation of eleven (11) additional commodities – melongene, cauliflower, pumpkin, plantain, eddoes, tomato, cabbage, sweet potato, sweet pepper, hot pepper and green paw paw.
Caroni Green Limited since inception and to this date maintains a good financial standing, operating well within its appointed stipulations. To this end, the Ministry in a proactive move commissioned an audit from Ernst and Young –which did not find the company in the red by any amount, but rather was instrumental in providing management with critical data used to improve operations
In fulfilling our mandate to the local agro industry, at times, when required we have consulted with independent agronomists so as to guide production activities as we continue to work towards lowering the food import bill and ensuring a food secure Trinidad and Tobago under the esteemed leadership of Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar.