SUGAR SYMPOSIUM: DIVERSIFICATION AND THE BURDEN OF SUGAR TO JAMAICA

Reading Time: 12 minutes

Mr Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen, I am glad that Mr. Brown tried to rescue the debate from the degeneration that Sir Robert Kirkwood set about to achieve. To my mind, it is the highest degree of impertinence for a man such as Kirkwood to come here tonight to tell us that he has no facts and figures to present to us, and to accuse Mr. Brewster of misinterpreting facts.

Before I go on to give him some of the facts which I have and the sources I have got them from, let me read for you one paragraph of Mr. Brewster’s article to which Kirkwood refers:

“Before doing so we should state two of the strategies which are posed in connection with sugar. Confusion on these questions have led to half-true statements and therefore to incorrect conclusions. The strongest alternative, I think, is that the sugar industry should be completely abandoned at once. We should be thankful if others do it for us. The logic of this approach is to create such extreme shock conditions (the only possibly effective stimulus to West Indian governments, in this view) that of necessity we would find, rather quickly, what the alternative activities are. In the course of finding these a new type of social, economic (and political) organisation would; by the very nature of the problem, become necessary. This approach has not gained widespread acceptance though some writers wish to give the impression that it is the only viewpoint tolerated by modern economists in the Caribbean.”

The less extreme strategy Mr. Brewster goes on to state:

“Its implementation is a process which must take time, whatever be the political system in operation. It is not a matter of a lightning transformation.”

On the evidence of this it seems to me that Mr. Brewster has a strong case for taking Mr. Kirkwood to court tomorrow.

I shall now return to the substance of my paper.

Previous to Mr. Kirkwood’s contribution I had been reluctant to quote the source of my facts. Now I shall dispense with any such reluctance and tell you that most of the statistical information comes from the Mordecai Report and that a great deal of this information was supplied by the Sugar Manufacturers’ Association.