ST. THOMAS – After hours of questioning and debating the merits of an agreement between the government and Cruzan VIRIL, senators on Tuesday voted 13-2 to ratify the contract.
The deal will keep Cruzan on St. Croix for at least the next 30 years, while also obligating a portion of the territory’s future rum tax revenues from the sale of Cruzan-produced bulk and branded rums in the U.S. to build the company a wastewater treatment facility, expand the Cruzan distillery to increase its production capacity, and also help support Cruzan’s marketing efforts.
The deal also continues the government’s molasses subsidy support to the company, to be paid through rum tax revenues, and continues Cruzan’s package of Economic Development Authority benefits through the life of the agreement.
“We’re not just voting on the document that is in front of us today,” Sen. President Louis Hill said in the moments before the vote was taken. “We are voting on people’s lives. It’s people’s lives that we affect.”
Government officials say the deal stands to increase the territory’s gross rum tax revenues from the sale of Cruzan-produced bulk and branded rum in the U.S. from $91.9 million last year to $198.6 million by 2016, while increasing Cruzan’s production capacity by 50 percent.