Jamaica: Chinese Fed Up, Want Out Of Monymusk Sugar Deal

RJR News

(Jamaica-Gleaner) – Pan Caribbean Sugar Company (PCSC) said earnest efforts are being made to offload Monymusk Sugar Estate to a new operator. It is also adamant that whatever the outcome, the Clarendon-based factory, which racked up more than US$60 million in losses under their management, is not in its future plans.

“Our investment in Jamaica has far exceeded our commitment,” Liu Chaoyu, the chief executive officer of PCSC, told¬†The Gleaner. “Monymusk has the capacity to process about 600,000 tonnes of cane, but every year we have less than 200,000 tonnes. That cannot work.”

According to Chaoyu, who spoke through her interpreter Sun Y’ Dan, it is difficult to operate the factory with the myriad problems that exist there.

“We cannot run a factory with input so low, plus there is the fallout in sugar prices, continuous drought, illicit cane fires and theft, all contributing to a total loss of US$60 million,” said Chaoyu. “So in order to prevent the total collapse of Pan Caribbean and to protect the development or survival of Frome, we had to make the painful decision of suspending the operation at Monymusk.”

She added, “At the same time, we made it clear to the government our intention of actively seeking potential investors locally or a foreign country to purchase Monymusk or be potential partners. Our choice would be a complete sale.”

Monymusk is among three sugar estates bought by PCSC for US$9 million in a divestment deal with the Jamaican Government in 2009, the others being Frome and Bernard Lodge. The company then invested more than US$260 million to renovate the factories and fields, while enduring a rather turbulent relationship with other sector players, mainly because of differences in culture and labour practices.

Relations with locals have improved drastically since Chaoyu took over the reins of the firm last December, with several communities in which the factories operate benefiting from their social intervention programmes, while cane farmers are getting better support to improve productivity.