Gov’t moves to arbitration court in France to recover over $1B for rice abandoned in Panama

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Over $1 billion remains outstanding for rice supplied on credit to authorities in Panama by the former APNU+AFC government in 2018.

And while there is a case ongoing in local courts against the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB), the PPP/C administration will soon move to the International Chambers of Arbitration in France.

This was confirmed by Attorney General, Anil Nandlall on Tuesday during his weekly ‘Issues in the News’ commentary on his Facebook page.

The former government had boasted about securing the Panamanian market for struggling rice farmers and millers at the time. But when the US$7.1 million in rice was delivered to the GRBD, it was sold on credit to authorities in Panama.

Soon after, the APNU+AFC government fell on a vote of no-confidence and payments for the rice were never made and neither were the creditors pursued before the APNU+AFC left office in 2020.

According to Nandlall, the rice was “abandoned in Panama.”

“Monies have to be expended to retain international lawyers to prosecute and defend these claims,” Nandlall said.

The rice agreement between Guyana and Panama is in “serious problem”, Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha noted in 2022.

Last year, millers were withholding hundreds of millions in commission to the GRDB in the absence of the payment for the rice sent to Panama.

In September 2018, Panamanian authorities rejected 33 containers of rice shipments after it was found that parboiled rice was shipped instead of the requested White Rice. Panama is one of Guyana’s major export markets for rice.

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