Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves has expressed “disappointment” with the slow disbursement of monies under the Farmers Support Company programme, which has made EC$6 million available to be borrowed by farmers.

As of the middle of last week, 1,151 application, with total request of EC$10.69 million has been received, with one persons applying for EC$3 million, even as the cap is EC$20,000.

However, only EC$737,400 had been disbursed under the programme — which offers loans at 2 per cent interest – and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture Raymond Ryan has promised promising that by May 14 all applicants will be assessed.

“I am pleased that the programme is being rolled out, but I am disappointed that there has not been a faster disbursement of monies,” said Gonsalves, who is also Minister of Finance.

Over 300 loan applications have been approved, and Gonsalves said,

“That is, in my judgement, unsatisfactory”, adding that he has made his feeling known to the Permanent Secretary and the Chief Agricultural Officer.”

“The money is available,” he said, adding that he had instructed that EC$2.5 million of the EC$6 million be placed in the company’s bank account.

“The money, I don’t want it to lie down in the bank. I want the money in the hands of the farmers and the fertilizer in the hands of the farmers,” he further stated.

“I expected by the month of April for them to be coming back to me and say, ‘Prime Minister, I need some more of the $6 million.’ I didn’t expect that I had to be calling them and telling them, ‘Why the hell have you not been spending this money that I put in the account?’” Gonsalves said.

In addition to cash for the paying of wages and the purchase of agricultural inputs, farmers can also take the loan in the form of fertilizer.

“… the warehouse is still stacked with fertilizer,” Gonsalves said, adding that of a gift of 5,000 sacks of fertilizer from Morocco, some 3,000 were still undistributed.

“So I am using this press conference to put pressure on the Ministry of Agriculture, the officials in the Ministry of Agriculture, who are good and descent people, … to get the fertilizer in the hands of the farmers.

“… So, I want the farmers to appreciate that if they have their beef with officials in the Ministry of Agriculture moving too slowly on this matter and behaving as though they are an NGO who working at a pace which is different to ULP time, I am saying plain and simple, that is unacceptable,” said Gonsalves, who is head of the Unity Labour Party (ULP) administration.

“I am not knocking any individual, I am just saying that I expect the game to be upped,” he further said, adding, “I want us to get these approvals quicker and the disbursements move faster.”

Gonsalves, however, said he is not asking for “hurry-hurry activity, but measured, careful activity with some urgency, given the circumstances…

“I want the farming community to know that I am onto this issue and I am pressing the relevant public servants to have it rolled out…

“… I am not here putting blame on anybody but I am here reporting to the farmers so that the farmers would know that I am on their side, and I am pushing…” Gonsalves said.

Correction: An earlier version of this story identified Raymond Ryan as Chief Agricultural Officer. He is in fact Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture.

3 replies on “PM ‘disappointed’ with slow disbursement of money under farmers support programme”

  1. Hahaah. I just have to laugh. Everytime someone is getting blamed by this guy but he still keep them and expect the a different outcome. Is it the same person who left the last order under the desk that did this one too?

    The man really make me sick, it’s always some body or something. Remember when he said that someone was trying to kill him? Not a sole was trying to kill him it was the same con he was running for years. The socialist always want a boogey man to blame. Don’t be fooled by them anymore, the ones who call themselves progressive and only want the chance to manage the plantation. Get rid of these guys SVG cannot afford Ralph anymore, he should have handed the reigns of the party to Saboto long ago, because there is no way that the ULP is going to survive when they lose elections.

  2. I don’t believe most of what he says, and this drops into that category.

    Even if there was no interest on the loans, it still has to be paid back. Agriculture has been destroyed by this government. Now they want to lend money to farmers who will if not very careful end up having their land taken from them to cover the loan debt.

    If farmers borrow money before the government put their own house in order and get all these disease problems under control, out of control because of the ULP governments very own negligence, mismanagement and lack of proper funding, the farmers are crazy. They will end up in more trouble than they are currently in.

    Farmers don’t take the money, wait until the government changes and get a far better deal.
    Get an exclusive deal, not a bit here and a bit there.

    They have been overcharging you all for fertilizer now for years, sometime 50% more than they should. Remember you were told that because of ALBA Venezuela would be supplying you with half price fertilizer, that didn’t happen either.

    You have had all your infrastructure taken from you, the government input warehouse has gone, the feeder roads have also been destroyed, the watering system has been destroyed, they have failed you in every possible way.

    They do not deserve another chance, dump them like they have dumped and destroyed you and your families.

  3. Notorious PIG says:

    The number 1 reason why projects fail? Political interference….The Office opened in January 2014, assessed and approved 300 loans – sounds like good going given the stage on the learning curve….

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