Guyana’s Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, said the government has plans to go to the International Chamber of Arbitration in France to recover more than $1 billion owed by the government of Panama to the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) for rice sold to the country.
During the previous administration, an agreement was reached with the Panamanian government for the supply of 9,000 tonnes of rice via the GRDB.
However, when the rice was delivered, it was credited to the country, which now owes Guyana almost $1 billion.
“Our government is now compelled to start procedures at the International Chamber of Arbitration in France in order to reclaim this debt… “Money must be spent to retain international lawyers in order to prosecute and defend these claims,” Nandall said.
Upon taking office, the government vowed to retrieve the amounts owing through the Ministry of Agriculture and has explored many routes, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, to keep the monies owed, but it has been ineffective.
Meanwhile, rice millers have launched a lawsuit against the GRDB in the High Court, demanding that the agency reimburse them for the rice supplied to the Panamanian government.
“These are farmers who followed the instructions of the government of the day and delivered their rice to the rice board. At the time, the government boasted that they had secured a new market for rice, sold and delivered rice farmers’ and millers’ rice on credit, and never attempted to recover any payment,” Minister Nandlall said.