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Feb 17, 2016

Guyanese Rice Not a Topic of Discussion at Intersessional Meeting

Wilfred Elrington

One issue which did not come up at the meeting of CARICOM heads of government was rice – specifically Guyana rice brought to Belize by importer Jack Charles. It was then sent back, ostensibly because Charles had not gotten the proper permit from the Belize Agriculture Health Authority. It was more than that, though. The bottom line was that the rice from Guyana, selling for far less per pound, would have threatened local rice producers. Today, Elrington told us that the issue didn’t come up because it is mundane, and has only been given wings by the media.

 

Wilfred Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs

“Things like that are not raised because really and truly whereas our media in Belize tend to make these issues, which are really mundane issues, we tend to blow them out of proportion, using a lot of misinformation and disinformation. That was a very simple transaction whereby a Belizean citizen wished to import rice into Belize from a CARICOM country. He has the right to do that, but it has to go through certain procedures. He just had not gone through the procedures and that is how that thing went out of control and a controversy was manufactured in my view because a few years before or even months before, rice had been imported by the same group that in fact was taking the major challenge to Jack Charles activities. They had imported rice from Guyana and nobody heard about it; as a matter of fact, we did not hear of it until long afterwards when this controversy rose. So the importation of rice or other products from the region does not normally cause a problem except when it is done improperly and someone challenges it. Then you have a problem.”

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