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Jul 25, 2017

P.M. defies international financiers on fuel subsidies for sugar; P.U.P. agrees

On average, four and a half million dollars is spent by government annually as it relates to subsidies on diesel fuel for the sugar industry. It is shared among all cane farmers, including miller American Sugar Refining/Belize Sugar Industries, which has its own fields. Now there are reports that it could be under threat as international financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and World Bank look for areas to cut Belize’s bloated spending. The Opposition People’s United Party has called on Government not to back down from the pressure that Ministry of Agriculture C.E.O. Jose Alpuche told reporters last week in Orange Walk is being applied. Orange Walk South representative, Shadow Minister for Agriculture and cane farmer himself, Jose Mai, told News Five today that the cañeros are counting on Belmopan – and a short time later, Prime Minister Dean Barrow appeared to come through, insisting that the subsidies will have to stay.

 

Jose Mai, Area Rep., Orange Walk South

Jose Mai

“Every single country subsidizes their farmers in some way or the other, some kind of subsidy – Mexico, our next door neighbor; the U.S. heavily subsidizes their farmers, the Europeans subsidize their farmers, especially when it comes to sensitive commodities like sugar, so I think it is untrue that the government is coming under pressure from IFI’s, and if they are coming under pressure from IFI’s, so what? The Prime Minister has stood up to the I.M.F. on several occasions and said you can go fly a kite. So it’s very unfortunate for the C.E.O. or the Government to want to attempt to stop the subsidies to cane farmers, especially at a time when the price of sugar cane is going to be reduced. It is unacceptable.”

 

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“There’s no pressure on me; maybe there’s pressure on poor Mister Alpuche, there’s no pressure on me. It’s the first time I’m hearing about that. It wouldn’t surprise me, because of course, the IFI’s are always concerned about subsidies, importation-wise, but that is a long-standing thing that no F.I. will force me to remove. So that’s an end to that.”

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