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Jamaica: Citrus growers to discuss government's funding conditions

The Citrus Growers Association (CGA) will be holding an extraordinary general meeting on March 17, to make a determination on the terms and conditions laid down by the Government for them to access short -term, public financing to assist with this year's crop.

Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Christopher Tufton, told the House of Representatives on Tuesday(March 3) that he met recently with the growers and discussed the need to assist with short-term financing to reap the crop.

Dr. Tufton said that he has informed the citrus growers that the assistance can only be granted, if they agree to the: restructuring of the organisation and accepting proposals for an equity partner; appointment of an interim financial controller, by the Ministry/ Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) to manage the funds; and establish a team to outline the terms of reference and facilitate the establishment of the equity partnership.

"Otherwise, the Government would be throwing good money after bad money, considering CGA's indebtedness to the Ministry and the DBJ to the tune of $120 million," Dr. Tufton said.

The Minister also informed the House that interim financing, through the DBJ, for the procurement of the present crop, would be disbursed contingent on the acceptance of the government's terms and conditions.

"I have instructed farmers to reap their fruit and supply it to the association and, provided that the terms outlined are accepted, the funds will be disbursed on short order," he said.

Dr. Tufton said that the Government had been approached in 2008, regarding the possibility of providing assistance to the growers.

He added that, given the state of the finances of the Citrus Growers Association, and the Ministry's previous interventions which did not result in an improvement in their financial situation, it was agreed that an audit be conducted to examine the state of affairs at the CGA and make the recommendations for its restructuring/re-capitalization.

Dr. Tufton further informed that consistent with the recommendations of the audit, the Ministry proposed to the CGA to invite equity participation to finance the modernization of its operations, as well as to provide working capital and proper management.

The Minister also said that he had met with the CGA membership and outlined the proposed equity participation.

"The Membership mandated their Board to meet with the Ministry and sign off on the proposed equity participation, with a view to returning them for ratification. The Board recently decided to recommend to their membership to proceed with equity participation," Dr. Tufton stated.

"On receipt of the resolution from the board, a submission was made to Cabinet, relating to the repositioning of the Citrus Growers Association. Cabinet approved the Ministry of Agriculture and the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) facilitating the engagement of an equity partner," he added.

Dr. Tufton further explained that the move is intended to address the restructuring and long term strategic needs of the company. In an effort to address the short term needs, Cabinet also approved interim financing through the DBJ for the procurement of the present crop.


Source: jis.gov.jm

Publication date: 3/6/2009


 


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