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Jan 6, 2015

P.M. Barrow on Latest Turn of Events in Sugar Crisis

When we checked tonight, there was no word yet on any possible meeting between the key players in the industry. But late this evening, the B.S.C.F.A. has written to the Prime Minister to intervene to bring the parties together. On Monday, the PM said the continued delay in the sugar industry will have dire effects on the economic front. But importantly, the future of the B.S.C.F.A. is also under question because should it pay out four million dollars of fair-trade money to farmers, it will become financially unstable and will have to send home a number of persons who are employed under different projects except for three directly employed by the association. But here is what the prime minister said on Monday night.

 

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“I will have to reach out to the two sides to find out what true position each is taking before we can determine whether there is a basis and if so what that basis would be to try to work out some kind of new agreement between them. At this juncture, just after the rejection of what had already been worked out, it is impossible for me to say what the way forward can look like until I talk to both sides.”

 

Reporter

“When do you expect to speak to either side of the two parties involved?”

 

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

Dean Barrow

“Possibly as early as tomorrow. We have to get through what is happening here today, but possibly as early as tomorrow.”

 

Reporter

“There is a risk that we will see a late crop, more late than last year, which was all the way to the twentieth of January. What position does this put the economy, especially of the north?”

 

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“It is very, very warning, clearly it will have a fundamentally harmful effect on the economy. When you talk about the economy in a sense, that’s sort of abstract. When you start to talk about people, it will have a fundamental prejudicial effect on the farmers and their families, on the shop keepers, on the gas stations, on anybody that does any kind of commerce in the north because there will be no spending power in terms of the bulk of the farmers. It will have an effect on the banks who have mortgages out, who are expecting repayments. It will be a huge disaster for the north if we don’t succeed at all costs in getting a crop.”

 

Reporter

“Yesterday the farmers passed another motion to use four million dollars for the fair-trade funds—this is an addition to the two point five that had already been dispersed. The directors and the financial committee are weary about it; they say that this might have the own association decertified permanently. What is your opinion on this?”

 

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“Well it is a matter for them, but it does strike me that it is perhaps a course of action that can have very far reaching effects in terms of exactly what you are saying decertification. Even more, immediate, I am not sure how much money will be left after they dissipate the four million dollars, but I am worried about their ability even to continue to run the association, even in terms of continuing to pay salaries, even in terms of continuing to pay bills. But presumably they know what they are doing.”

 

So this is where we are: at news time, there is no word yet on any movement to bring the parties around the negotiating table.

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