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Nov 21, 2014

Chamber President Speaks on Sugar Impasse

On Thursday, the Belize Chamber of Commerce issued a release on the continued impasse in the sugar cane industry. It’s been criticized in some sectors because it doesn’t seem to take any strong position. Today, Chamber President Arturo Vasquez says that the release is not at all ambiguous and he feels that the chamber has a responsibility to speak on the matter as the head of the business sector in Belize. And while he admits that the B.C.C.I. doesn’t have the answers, they make no apology for stating that foreign direct investment is critical and should be encouraged.

 

Arturo Vasquez, President, Belize Chamber of Commerce

Arturo Vasquez

“We look at ASR as a foreign director investor and we see that they are basically moving the sugar industry forward. Now there is an impasse which we believe needs to be solved. I don’t think our release gave the solution, but I think what our release basically said is that you need foreign direct investment to move the country forward. As we said in one of our bullet points we made is that without the foreign investment it takes the taxpayers money and your contributions like social Security to invest. So for me and for the Chamber that is really the key point that we made – that we need to keep foreign direct investments encouraged. In this case there is an impasse and we feel that all stakeholders should take a responsible approach to this to look at the bigger picture and to ensure that the economy is not affected by this impasse. We can’t take sides – that’s for sure. And I can say that both sides have their reasons for what they are doing. I do believe that there should be a price on bagasse. Now what the price is I don’t know. I understand that there are several ways of doing that formula. As for ownership of the cane, that is something that I don’t believe is a good point, but I understand that is not the issue. Bagasse should carry a price. I understand and I may be totally incorrect here, but the issue has gone beyond that in trying to get some return on the electricity that will be provided, but that’s not a fact – it’s only what I heard. I know that there’s a price on the bagasse and both parties are asking for different prices.  I don’t believe it’s to the point where ASR would be pulling out. I don’t think that’s the case. I just think that it means a loss of money. It means a loss of revenue for both sides. And we are looking at a direct investor here, that I think would not like to have that a second time around.”

 

The farmers, through the B.S.C.F.A., have asked B.S.I. to sign onto an interim agreement. Based only on the principle of moving business forward, Vasquez says that is not something that they agree with.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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