cross section of participants at Monday nights annual Pointe-a-Pierre
constituency conference at the Petrortin Sports Club.
Inset: Prime Minister and Political Leader of the ruling Peoples
National Movement, Patrick
Manning gestures as he addresses PNM Point-a-Pierre constituents
on Monday night during the annual Pointe-a-Pierre constituency conference
at the Petrotrin Sports Club. Photo: Rishi Ragoonath
Prime Minister Patrick Manning has said that Caroni (1975) Ltd cost
the country $12.5 billion between 1975 and 2008.
This revelation comes as government seeks an additional $3.5 billion
in supplementary funding, $80million of which is to repay sums used
in exiting the sugar industry.
Addressing members of the PNMs Pointe-a-Pierre constituency
on Monday night, Manning said of the $12.5 billion, it cost $7,709
million to close the sugar company which had lost its previous position
of pre- eminence.
Manning said the decision to close the company was based on economics
and denied that it had anything to do with ethnic politics,
malice or vindictiveness.
He said the reason the closure was so hotly opposed by the Opposition
was because their political organisation and structure were rooted
in the trade union movement and not the people as obtained in the
in 2003, when the PNM government took the position that sugar was
not economically viableand the time had come to change itthose
opposed to us saw it as a dagger to their hearts, he said.
effect was not so much the demise of sugar and the industry; they
saw the demise of the trade union and the demise of the basis on
which their political organisation was based, Manning said.
Manning itemised the closure costs as follows:
n Backpay for the 9,007 workers$97 million
n Enhanced VSEP for 7,873 workers $741million,
n Re-training programme $16 million,
n Pension payment$439million,
n Pension plan deficit$360million,
n Development of 30 residential housing estates $592million,
n Development of agricultural estates for 8,388 former Caroni employees$598
total of $2,845 million, that is what we put into the closure of
Caroni up until that time. But there were additional costs,
He said arrears to creditors amounted to $150million, administrative
costs to $127million, legal fees and consultancy fees to $35million,
statutory liabilities (taxes, NIS) $177million, loan repayment $12
million, assumption of loans, $3,400 million, together with two
loans, one from RBTT guaranteed in the sum of $719 million and the
other from Citibank in the sum of $131million, amounting to $4,781
addition, as cane farmers sought to exit the system, government
agreed to pay $82million in transitional cost.
total cost, therefore, for closing Caroni Ltd, amounted to $7,709
million. It did not cost us two cents.
if you add on to that, what Caroni cost us in the period 1975 to
2002, it cost the country, because it was not profitable, $4,755
sugar industry cost us between 1975 and 2008 $1,2464 million$12.5
Manning also scoffed at those who envisioned massive unemployment
of the 9,000 ex-sugar workers when the industry was shut down.
He said the country is experiencing full employment.
economy has expanded to such an extent that we are no longer able
to satisfy the demand for labour.
To continue its accelerated rate of development, Manning said the
Government now has to turn to Caricom countries, Malaysia and even
China to satisfy its labour needs.