The Leader of the Opposition, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, SC, MP, says the plans outlined by the United National Congress for the Agriculture sector will not only generate revenue and reduce the country’s food import bill, but create jobs for the people of this country.
The Opposition Leader issued the following statement:
I note that the Express newspaper, in its editorial of Friday 22nd November, 2019 sought to give the impression that our plans for the Usine Ste Madeleine facility would be led at the Government level, when in fact, I specifically stated that the next UNC Government would invite private investors to establish a new state-of-the-art, cooperative Sugar Manufacturing Complex at Usine St. Madeleine.
The Express also stated that I “should have seized the opportunity of last month’s budget debate to advocate for the resurrection of sugar production with a serious review of the impact of the 2003 industry closure and a detailed case for its rejuvenation”. I am on record as having done so during my response to the 2019-2020 Budget.
Given the important role the media plays in disseminating information to the public, responsible journalism and reporting are critical, even more so as we head into the 2020 General Election campaign. The statements expressed in the Express may be seen as misleading, and the information must be corrected.
I wish to re-state the points I made during my Budget response and again at our Local Government meeting in Marabella:
Since the closure of Caroni (1975) Limited some 15 years ago, Trinidad and Tobago spends over $300 million a year importing sugar and sugar products.
We will invite private investors to establish a new state-of-the-art, cooperative sugar manufacturing company at Usine St. Madeleine.
This new sugar company will purchase sugarcane grown by private farmers at market-based prices and will produce organic raw sugar and products like jaggery for sale to the domestic and export markets.
Investors will be required to fully finance the building of their sugar manufacturing plant.
The Government will provide all the necessary support required to fast-track implementation of investors’ plans, as well as the necessary land or tax incentives.
The Government will retain a minority equity position in the sugar manufacturing facility in exchange for any land provided.
I wish to call on the Express and other media houses to ensure that the information presented to the public accurately reflects what has been stated by members of the United National Congress both inside the Parliament and in the public domain, including social media.
The UNC’s plan for agriculture will create ten thousand new jobs, cut the food import bill by $2 billion, generate an additional $1 billion in agricultural exports, and increase to 5% agriculture’s contribution to GDP.
We have put forward a comprehensive plan for job creation, the development of new industries, and revenue generation, unlike the Rowley Government, which is yet to put forward a single initiative or programme to improve our economic situation.
They have spent more than $200 billion in four years, with nothing to show for it.
The UNC remains focused on serving the people of Trinidad and Tobago, and getting our nation working again.