Banana farmers want a loan guarantee of 1.9 million euros from the government of St. Lucia
The reluctance of the government of Saint Lucia to grant the National Fair Trade Organization Saint Lucia Limited (NFTOSL) a 1.9 million loan for exported fruit has yet to be paid off.
Efforts to get a comment from Agriculture Minister Ezekiel Joseph have been unsuccessful, but farmers call on him and the rest of his cabinet colleagues to remind them of their responsibility to the industry currently struggling due to the financial collapse of WINFRESH in the West Indies, which are in Market and sell fruit under their name.
WINFRESH currently owes NFTOSL EC $ 8 million, of which the St. Lucia Government has advanced through the St. Lucia Department of Agriculture and Investment the NFTOSL EC $ 2.4 million. According to NFTOSL Chairman Eustace Monrose, “the Minister has specifically said that this is progress on behalf of WINFRESH.”
Monrose said that these funds along with the NFTOSL’s reserves were all gone, hence the call to the government for help, an aid that Monrose said the NFTOSL will repay and will not cost the government.
He said the NFTOSL had been talking to Minister Joseph about their need for additional cash from October 2020 as of October 2020 as they will be negotiating directly with supermarkets in the UK now that WINFRESH is no longer viable.
“We have told the minister that direct implementation brings with it certain responsibilities, meaning that we may need higher cash outlays that require temporary cash support for the purchase of packaging materials and some other related costs. All we are asking is the government to allow a $ 1.9 million loan from the Development Bank and a $ 500,000 advance from Invest Saint Lucia while we await loan approval.
“However, we were caught by when we were told by Invest Saint Lucia that they needed a letter from the development bank to approve the loan. The bank wrote and said they needed a state guarantee and the minister of agriculture. ” informed that the government will not give the guarantee unless it chairs the NFTOSL, “said Monrose.
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