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Jan 8, 2016

Jack Charles Wheels and Comes Again but COLA Supports Belizean Rice Producers

Is Jack Charles gearing up for another wave of attacks on the local rice industry?  News Five can confirm tonight that the businessman has lodged a formal request to import ten containers of Guyanese rice into the country.  This time however, it is presumed that all I’s will be dotted and T’s crossed, ahead of the importation of that quantity of bulk grain.  On Thursday, CARICOM Secretary General Irwin LaRocque emphasized that under the CSME agreement, sanitary and phytosanitary certificates cannot be used as a means of blocking the trade of goods between member states.  Interestingly, Citizens Organized for Liberty Through Action, COLA, has come out on the side of local producers.  Earlier today, Vice President Gilroy Usher Junior told News Five that their support for homegrown rice remains resolute.

 

Gilroy Usher Jr., Vice President, COLA

“Our official position is simple, number one: we support our local rice industry and I think from the onset we have been on record to state that emphatically, you know.  In respect to the present situation going on between Mr. Jack Charles and BAHA and the government, we do believe that the court made the right decision in not allowing him to bring in the rice to sell in Belize because it was an illegal process.  My understanding is, through the interview on the news is that Mr. Charles does not have a license to import rice.  So therefore then, that makes the whole process void.  So that is our position on that.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“In terms of what was the initial thinking, that introducing cheaper rice into the local market would afford the lesser fortunate, if I may, an opportunity to buy rice and feed themselves.  Has there been a move away from this particular thinking?”

 

Gilroy Usher Jr.

Gilroy Usher Jr.

“Well that has never been our position my brother.  Our position has always been that we believe that rice is a domestic product that should be provided domestically and if there presents a situation whereby our local producers are not able to produce rice at a price that enables the, I would say, the less financially privileged people to acquire the produce then I believe that our government should then have a responsibility to subsidize their production and to make this essential product available, you know.  Importation should be the absolute last resort.  I think that importation is something that we could look at in the event that our rice fields have been decimated or in the event when we have our citrus fields being decimated by hurricanes and stuff like that then we can look to importation as a easily and readily alternative until we can get back on track.  But the present situation, I believe that our government should subsidize our producers.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“Do you believe as well, as an executive of COLA and this is an official position of your organization that the government should do whatever it is in its capacity to protect the local industry from being penetrated by the Guyanese market which is a considerably larger market, by comparison?”

 

Gilroy Usher Jr.

“Sincerely I believe that that is the responsibility of all governments.  You must protect your local producers at all costs.  Like I said, importation should be the last resort.  So even with our CARICOM trade agreement with these nations, I think it’s quite stipulated that certain products are protected from trade and I think as Belizeans we must all embrace that aspect of the trade [agreement] that certain aspects of the industry should be secured.”

 

Jack Charles returns to court on Tuesday, having been granted an injunction restraining Customs from taking possession of the existing shipment.  It is expected that Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin will hand down a decision on whether or not the three containers of prepackaged rice can be re-exported from Big Creek.

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1 Response for “Jack Charles Wheels and Comes Again but COLA Supports Belizean Rice Producers”

  1. CEO says:

    Competition is the best mechanism to get consumers a better price. This needs to be balanced by the laws governing the importation of any product.

    The country also should never allow itself to be a dumping ground for subsidized products from another country because this will cause damage to our local industry.

    So yes allow competition but make it fair so the consumer in the end will get the best bang for their buck!

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