Gov’t not responsible for farmers being owed by millers for rice shipped to Panama

In light of recent reports circulating in the media as it relates to some millers being owed for rice supplied to Panama, Guyana Rice Development Board’s (GRDB) General Manager, Nizam Hassan has indicated that the Board is not in possession of the funds and is currently working with officials in Panama to ensure that the outstanding balance will be made available for payment at the earliest possible time.

The GM further stated that millers are aware that when they supply the Panamanian market, they will receive payments from GRDB when same is received from Panama.

“The Panamanian market is a government market that pays a higher price than other markets.  However, payments are sometimes delayed due to government processes. Millers are owed for the two contracted supply – the last contract for 2017 and the first contract for 2018 and not for contracts for any previous years.” Hassan said.

Many small millers, who supplied rice under the past two contracts, were recently paid by the rice board to the tune of US$1,270,901 from its own resources. Additionally, GRDB recently received US$550,000 from Panama, which is currently being paid to millers.

Agriculture Minister Noel Holder indicated that the rice industry is doing well but said that the millers should desist from using the farmers as a bank.

Generally, transactions are done through an established letter of credit. The Panamanian market offers a 30% increase in price for rice but given the existing arrangement and the fact that it is not an irrevocable letter of the credit agreement, the millers evidently want to enjoy both sides of the coin. They want both the increased prices as well as the terms outlined in the line of credit agreement.

Millers have the option of paying farmers from funds they have or arrange payments through established banking agreements and are urged to do so since the law stipulates that farmers are to be paid two weeks after paddy is supplied to the millers.

The General Manager further pointed out that reports of millers securing private deals through the Mexican market has nothing to do with the Board.

“Shipments to the Mexican market are done in a private capacity, henceforth, the Board is not handling any monies for rice supplied to that market.” Hassan said.

Guyana exported some 540,000 tonnes of rice for 2017, which saw its highest numbers since 2015 when a total of 535,000 tonnes were recorded.