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Panama to soon pay Guyana close to $2 billion owed to rice farmers

Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha on Tuesday said the Panamanian Government has been sending ‘encouraging response’ to the Ministry of Agriculture, as it relates to the almost $2 billion outstanding rice payment, owed to GuGuyana.

Mustapha made the disclosure in Essequibo while meeting with rice farmers who last week demanded he met with them to addressed the issue of monies owned to them by various millers for rice shipment.

During the meeting, the Minister said that the Government of Guyana is presently in dialogue with Panama’s Agriculture Ministry, in an effort to have the outstanding monies paid within the shortest possible time.

This publication recently carried an article, which stated that rice farmers on the Essequibo Coast, are owed millions for paddy credited by millers.

Millers in response, said that they are owed by the Guyana Rice Development Board, which in turn is owed by the Panamanian Government. The Minister told millers on Tuesday that for the first time, the Panamanian Government has been responding favorably.

“For the first time we are getting some very encouraging response from Panama, as a matter of fact this is the first time we have had acknowledgement from the Minister of Agriculture in Panama, he indicated that they will pay us shortly but I have asked that we get that in writing so hopefully before the week is out we can have that written commitment” Agri Minister Mustapha noted.

Farmers, however, will have no choice but to wait until the Panamanian Government can deliver on its payment, as the Minister linked their payment to Guyana first being paid by the Government of Panama

This publication understands that farmers in Region Two are owed over $50 million collectively by millers on the Essequibo Coast.

“When we look at the amount of money, it’s close to about two billion dollars that they owe the Guyanese Millers. Some farmers have reported that they are also owed by rice millers, so we have to resolve all of these issues so that our farmers can be paid.” Said the Minister.