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Guyana wants Panama to pay rice debt

Guyana wants Panama to pay rice debt
Guyana’s Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha. (GP)

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GEORGETOWN – Guyana has called on Panama to meet its GUY$1.9 billion (One Guyana dollar=US$0.004 cents) debt owed for the supply of rice.

A government statement on Monday said that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs dispatched a letter to the Panamanian authorities on Friday, urging them to honour their obligations to Guyana and to pay the funds owed to the rice millers.

Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha, said the Spanish-speaking country acknowledged the arrears and has since committed to paying the sum soon.

“They wanted the contract to continue in the new year. Since then to now, they have indicated that they will pay, but they are awaiting the end of this pandemic (COVID-19),” Mustapha said.

Mustapha said that to follow up the letter he will be contacting his Panamanian counterpart in the new week, to fix a date for the money to be released.

Mustapha also said the Guyana government remains committed to recouping the sums and will continue to make representation for the rice industry.  He said the matter could have been resolved a long time ago, had the previous administration shown “some interest” in the concerns of rice farmers.

The statement said that President Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali has also held talks with the Panamanian government on the issue. (CMC)