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Jan 6, 2015

B.S.C.F.A. to Support Order of Mandamus

The only thing for certain in the sugar industry is that it is back to square one and tonight, the industry finds itself at rock bottom. While there is urgent need to start the sugar crop, it is still not known when the Tower Hill mill will begin to grind. Here is why.  On Sunday, in San Roman Village, a vast majority of the membership of the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association voted against the signing of a proposed agreement drafted by ASR/B.S.I.  The near-unanimous rejection of the offer has forced both parties back to the table where they will once again attempt to prepare an agreement that is mutually beneficial. But it is not known when there will have a sit down.  Prior to the special general meeting, the likelihood of an injunction being filed to prevent the signing of the agreement, had it not satisfied several requests being made by former B.S.C.F.A. secretary, Lucilo Teck, loomed over the discussions.  While the injunction application has since been withdrawn, a writ of mandamus is to be heard on Friday to compel the Sugar Industry Control Board to set a date for the start of the sugar crop. The thinking is that the SICB has the power to set the date for the start of the crop. But this position has already been rejected by the government. So while that hangs in the balance, this morning, News Five spoke with erstwhile vice-chairman Alfredo Ortega who says that the organization is regrouping and is joining forces with Teck in seeking an order from the Supreme Court.

 

Alfredo Ortega, Former Chairman, B.S.C.F.A.

Alfredo Ortega

“As you know, the farmers passed a motion and approved that the agreement should not be signed as is.  But also included in the motion was that the association join hands with Mr. Lucilo Teck in the order of mandamus to the SICB in order to start a crop.  But yesterday the association didn’t function for normal business so until today they’re functioning for their normal business and I believe that today the chairman will send the letters to the respective parties in regards to what the farmers approved on Sunday and in that regard we are working right now [on] what’s to happen and we are expecting that the committee of management will join hands with Mr. Lucilo Teck as early as early as possible for that mandamus to go on.  But on the other hand, I believe that if BSI is serious and the SICB is serious in starting a crop I think if they are prepared the farmers have said that they are prepared to start a crop.  I think that we can sit around a table and discuss the start of crop and we can start a crop without waiting for the court to demand or for the court to set a date for that to happen.  I think that as partners in the business we can sit down and negotiate that date to start but if that doesn’t happen well then the mandamus comes into play.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“What prompted the decision for the wider membership of the B.S.C.F.A. to unite with Mr. Teck in bringing forward this motion?”

 

Alfredo Ortega

“Well, as you know, from since we started the negotiation those very three points that the farmers accepted on December fourteenth, those were the very same three points that the farmers had rejected from ever since and they had placed that on the shoulders of the committee and the negotiating team not to accept those three points as was.  What the farmers had said is: on point number one, they rejected a seven-year agreement.  What they said was let us sign a one-year agreement or a three-year agreement because it has been announced that the contract between B.S.I. and Tate & Lyle will come to an end in October 2015 and there is also the forecast of 2017 that the EU regime will come to an end and the market will be opened for those that produce sugar from beet so there would be problems regarding the marketing of sugar from sugarcane.  So that is where the farmers said well on point number one let us negotiate one or two or three years and then after that we can sit down again and see what would be the basis on which we are at that point in time for a new negotiation.  And on point number two, in regards to the ownership of cane farmers have said no to it because when you look at what B.S.I. charges as overhead expenses they have commission, they have supervision, they have handling charges, they have insurance.  So we share the payment for all of those movements and then the balance that’s being divided to the farmers.  But we are being paid based on the three points that we have, the delivery, during the delivery period then the second payment and the third payment.  Now if things want to shift as B.S.I. has said that they want to be the owners of the material then the farmers have said, “Well then pay me ninety to a hundred dollars, let us negotiate on a price per ton of cane.  You pay me that and then you do whatsoever you want with it.”  But as is we are sharing the losses and we are sharing the payment of whatsoever goes up on the movement of the sugar.”

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1 Response for “B.S.C.F.A. to Support Order of Mandamus”

  1. Perpetual says:

    It’s a very unfortunate situation where farmers are at this point. They were only told what they wanted to hear. Ms Matura failed to read the whole sugar act. She failed completely. Now Mr Ortega is trying to hold on to the fair trade monies, that was his motive from the beginning. From the moment the farmers were demanding the money it’s obvious that they don’t trust the directors, or the farmers present at the moment don’t care about the industry. 3

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