Saturday 17 November, 2018

Manufacturers who import white sugar will have to pay duty up front

Manufacturers who import white sugar will now be required to pay the duty up front and be reimbursed by the Government within 30 days.

This was disclosed by Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Audley Shaw, who said this change is necessary as the Government seeks to stem the illegal importation of the product.

“There is no other way. That is the way to begin to rescue this industry,” Shaw asserted while addressing a luncheon hosted by the All-Island Jamaica Cane Farmers’ Association, in association with the Sugar industry Authority (SIA), at the Spanish Court Hotel, in New Kingston on Tuesday.

For years, manufacturers have been benefiting from the duty-free entry of sugar into the country for the manufacturing process.

The Minister noted that since manufacturers are unable to ensure that the system of importing duty-free sugar into the country is kept rigidly intact and is not abused, “the guarantee now no longer exists”.

Shaw pointed out that imported white sugar is increasingly finding its way into the local market, “not by way of the manufacturing process, but directly finding its way on to the supermarket shelves and the corner shop shelves of this country”.

The Minister pointed specifically at brokers, who he said are brokering on behalf of manufacturers who import the sugar duty-free, noting that part of the product goes to the manufacturers and the rest goes into the local market.

Shaw said this activity, which he stressed is unacceptable, is leading to a backup of locally produced sugar that cannot be sold.

He pointed out that at last check, more than 30,000 tonnes of locally produced sugar “is sitting around in warehouses, either at Pan Caribbean or Jamaica Cane Product Sales… can’t be sold, while sugar, illegally imported duty-free, is finding its way into the market, further destroying what remains of the Jamaica sugar industry”.

He further informed that the SIA will assist with the management of the new rebate system and will be done in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service.

“I want to say to the manufacturers, we are not trying to make it hard for you, but the problem is that the system is corrupted and the Government is going to work with you as manufacturers to make sure that you get your rebate promptly,” he assured.

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