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Jan 14, 2016

Jack Charles on the Hot Seat for Breach of Procedures

Dean Barrow

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Dean Barrow chimed in on the rice situation, reiterating that the ongoing state of affairs is not an issue between Belize and Guyana.  He went on record to state that government was willing to grant businessman Jack Charles a forfeiture override to re-export the quantity of rice.  The PM, however, minced no words when saying that the issue is squarely the result of Charles not having followed the prescribed measures in obtaining an import license before going ahead with the introduction of Guyanese rice.  For context, we will revisit that interview.

 

Prime Minister Dean Barrow [File: January 12th, 2016]

“He was told that he has to make a formal application to me as the Minister of Finance because there is the forfeiture order and unless the Supreme Court were to have overturn that order, only the Minister of Finance can give you an opt out. He has agreed to do that and I think as a consequence the court hearing this morning did not proceed since he has undertaken that he will write to me. I have signalled that I am prepared to give him the forfeiture override so that he can get the rice out. It’s not a fight between Belize and Guyana; the Deputy Prime Minister and the C.E.O. in the Ministry of Agriculture are in Guyana now; they’re going to be talking to their counterparts over there. But we don’t want to make too much of it. This is a…as of now, a problem with Mister Charles and his not having gone through the proper processes. I’m not going to in fact not concede that clearly this government has an interest in protecting the local rice farmers and in protecting the local rice industry. But we are not at the stage yet where anybody can elevate it to the level of a country to country conflict and I’m sure that as soon as the deputy and Jose Alpuche return, they will be able to update you on how those bilateral talks go. Even if no progress is produced there, there are mechanisms under the treaty for us to make certain applications in terms of our need to protect the local rice industry. But like I say that’s a little premature for now. I’d like to keep it at the level where it is a question of Mister Charles having to go through the right procedure if he is to have any chance of being able to import rice.”

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