GRPA dissatisfied with payment procedures
General Secretary of the Guyana Rice Producers Association (GRPA) Dharamkumar Seeraj, has said that he is not satisfied with the pace at which payments are being made to rice farmers in Regions 5 and 6 by Mahaicony Rice Mills Limited.
In an invited comment to this newspaper yesterday, Seeraj said only a small amount of payments are being made to farmers in these regions, although the Milling Company had promised the Ministry of Agriculture to conclude all payments, totaling $171 million before harvesting starts early this month.
According to the General Secretary, in his last discussion with the company, he urged the management to ‘speed up’ the payment process, so that all farmers can receive their money before the commencement of the crop.
“I will not know for sure if the company will speed up the process until the end of this week, because you know sometimes they do what they say and sometimes they don’t,” Seeraj told Kaieteur News.
Seeraj will be meeting with farmers in Region Six today to get a firsthand experience of what is taking place between the farmers and Mahaicony Rice Mills.
Meanwhile, the General Secretary added that farmers in Essequibo have been paid off all monies owed to them by the milling company. A total of $17 million was paid to the farmers from August 23 to the end of last week.
On August 18, last, the General Manager of the rice company, Taramatie Ghanie, along with an Assistant Manager of Demerara Bank, Andre Lam, met with Seeraj and Minister of Agriculture, Robert Persaud, where the commitment was made to pay the farmers.
It was reported that approximately $200 million is outstanding to farmers for the first crop by the milling company.
At that meeting, Seeraj had said the rice industry cannot do without the operation of Mahaicony Rice Mills and taking this into consideration, the GRPA has recognised that the company has been running a ‘little wild’ in the past.
He reiterated that Mahaicony Rice Mills has to operate within the regulations of the industry.
“I think the company has recognised that we are very serious about addressing these issues, the rice industry is very close to the heart of the Guyanese people and we will not allow any single company to ride roughshod over the farmers themselves,” Seeraj said.
He added if the milling company operates in a much more accountable and transparent manner, then regulations will not have to be framed, which might not be in the best interest of a free market enterprise.
It was also explained that if the company is to dishonour its commitment then there are measures in place within the regulation to penalise them.
However, Minister Persaud said that these measures would be the last resort of the Ministry of Agriculture. (Fareeza Haniff)