Isn’t it disappointing and a poor reflection on the leadership in Barbados we have to endure the perennial blame game concerning the state and future of the sugar industry in Barbados? At last month’s Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) Prime Minister Stuart placed the blame squarely on the back of the private sector for the decline. Even if we accept Stuart’s position we have to ask him, who will lead? It is approaching mid-February and there has been no mobilization of the crop season to reap what is estimated to be 9,000 tonnes of sugar, the lowest in our history.
The average Barbadian is divided about whether sugar is uneconomic. Sadly the majority of positions taken are from uninformed position. Uninformed positions extend to social commentators (talk show hosts) who can be heard daily with positions like, let us follow the St. Kitts model. When the hell has Barbados been known for following lesser developed countries? Is this the sum of billions of investment in education?
Back to sugar!
Agriculturist Peter Webster in today’s press challenged Prime Minister Stuart’s perspective that the decline of the sugar industry was due to private sector mismanagement. Webster opines in his exposition it was the Sugar Industry Act of 1971 that bears prime responsibility for the decline of an industry. AND that through it’s entire history was subject to booms and busts. Another interesting point (among many) made by him is that Government through its public sector agency “BAMC achieves yields 20% lower than their private sector counterparts and their cost of production is 100% higher“.
There is a simple point to be made. All sides need to sit around a table and make informed decisions about the pathway the sugar industry must take to add optimum value to the Barbados economy. The procrastinating, chicanery, vacillating and idiocy needs to stop!