The rice exporters and millers group has called for the scrapping of a controversial deal between the GRDB and two Jamaican companies, saying that it will put the industry here in a worse financial state.
A release from the group follows:
The Guyana Rice Exporters and Millers Association’s Board of Directors would like to inform all Rice Millers, Rice Farmers and the general public that they are not in support of the Agreement recently signed between Mussons/Jamaica Rice Milling Company Limited (JRMCL) and the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) that will effectively limit importations of rice into Jamaica to these two Jamaican Companies. While on the surface this agreement appears as though it is intended to increase the price and quantity of rice that millers can export to the Jamaican Market, that in reality, the reverse is likely to take place.
The reasons for this decision are:-
First, GREMA was never consulted on this agreement and was only made aware of it after it was signed by the parties concerned. While we have voiced our concerns about this, to date the GRDB continues to negotiate with these two Jamaican Companies without our involvement, although in the end it is not the GRDB that produces and sells the rice, but local rice millers and farmers.
Second, since this agreement artificially fixes our export price to Jamaica above the existing free market price, then there is a real fear that we can lose our share of the Jamaican Market to Suriname, who can continue to offer rice to Jamaica at the existing free market price.
Third, this agreement between the GRDB and Mussons/JRMCL can be considered an Anti-Competitive Business Agreement, which is prohibited by Article 177 of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas (Caricom).
Fourth, since this agreement can result in higher prices for the Jamaican consumers, there is the possibility that Jamaica could consider removing the CET on rice to allow cheaper extra regional imports of rice into Jamaica.
The GREMA Board of Directors is of the opinion that when the above factors are taken into consideration, this agreement in its present form and the contracts that Millers are being required to sign with these two Jamaican Companies would result in our rice industry being in a worse financial position than it was under the old free market system. This will not only negatively affect millers, but also impact negatively on the livelihoods of our local rice farmers.
GREMA is of the opinion that this agreement should be cancelled for the good of the industry and seeks Government’s intervention in helping to resolve this situation as soon as possible.