THE European Union (EU) handed over a cheque for 16.585 million euros (TT$134.2 million) to the Government yesterday to aid in restructuring the country's sugar industry.

The State-controlled sugar industry was disbanded in 2007 with the closure of Caroni (1975) Ltd and the then PNM administration approached the EU to help facilitate a National Adaptation Strategy for former sugar workers to promote life after sugar.

To date, the total contribution from the EU has totalled 31.9 million euros (TT$276.1 million).

The Government will decide how the money is used to revamp the industry.

Newly appointed chargé d'affairs for the EU Daniela Tramacere said that despite the recent economic problems among member states, the EU remained committed to the development of a sustainable agricultural sector in Trinidad and Tobago.

She was speaking yesterday during a press conference at the International Waterfront Centre, Port of Spain.

The Food Production, Land and Marine Affairs and Planning ministries will be responsible for the disbursement of the funds.

Food Production Minister Vasant Bharath said receipt of this latest grant was a result of the Government having successfully satisfied all the stringent performance indicators required by the EU.

Since 2003, the restructuring programme for the former sugar workers has included $82 million to more than 3,000 cane farmers as traditional support; leases for agricultural land to former Caroni workers; compensation to 9000 former employees of Caroni (1975) Ltd; and construction of access roads for 17 agricultural estates.

source: trinidadexpress


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