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Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Trinidad and Tobago: Goverment fiddling with cane money

Time and again, groups representing farmers picketed the offices of the European Commission, the Office of the Prime Minister at White Hall and several other state offices to express their concerns over the funding. Farmers feared that government was stalling in taking up the offer by the EU of some Euro $41 million to be used in minimising the environmental, social and economic impacts of government’s decision to withdraw from the sugar industry. And while plans are indeed moving ahead by government to use EU funding for the restructuring programme developed for the sugar industry, the Cane Producers Association fear government is attempting to exclude its members in benefiting from this support. EU funding will be delivered in four fixed tranches, once government is able to fulfill three conditions of the financing agreement. Four variable tranches are also available, once the country is able to fulfill additional criteria. Trinidad has already received Euro 2.2 million in the first fixed tranche from the European Commission and may receive the variable tranche for 2009 of Euro 3.6 million once assessment is done to ensure economic diversification and mitigation of the environmental and socio-economic impact is taking place. Dick-Forde used the opportunity to explain cane farmers had been included in plans for restructuring the industry. As part of the process, she said, 3,420 private sugarcane farmers who were cultivating sugarcane during 2006-2007 were to be provided with transitional finance.

Source:  Newsday