Cane farmers reject $57.9 million pay-out; demand $103 million

Thursday, July 28, 2016 - 20:00

Trinidad Guardian: Cane farmers are rejecting Government's promise to pay $57.9 million as final payment of the outstanding two tranches of a grant by European Union as compensation following the closure of Caroni (1975) Limited several years ago.

So said attorney Gerald Ramdeen, who is representing the former cane farmers in the matter.

An announcement of the payment was made yesterday by the Planning and Development Ministry.

Cabinet yesterday approved the payment of more than $57.9 million, which represented the remaining two tranches of the payments. 

SEE ALSO: Cabinet agrees to $58 million pay-out to cane farmers

It stems from an agreement between the former PP government and the European Union.

Under the first tranche, more than 3,000 farmers were paid in excess of $24 million.

The farmers were informed of the latest payment yesterday by permanent secretary in the ministry, Joanne Deoraj. They are expected to be informed officially in writing, the ministry added.

However, after speaking with the leadership of the cane farmers union, Ramdeen said the attempt to pay $57 million as final payment was a betrayal as the former cane farmers were being owed more than $100 million. 

“It is a betrayal of the cane farmers,” he insisted yesterday, adding: “My clients are categorically rejecting the offer of the Government. They are ready to go to court and those proceedings are going to be filed by next week.”

Ramdeen said the Minister of Finance and the Attorney General must explain why they were not honouring an earlier promise to pay the full amount in two tranches.

Ramdeen said the $57.9 million represented only half of the total payments due.

He said the legal action would be initiated in a few days. 

“We are going to make this Government pay through the court because they don’t want to do so voluntarily.

“The cane farmers will accept nothing less than the $103 million owed,” Ramdeen added.