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Aug 18, 2017

Should Government Settle B.S.I./B.S.C.F.A. Impasse?

The first issue raised on the adjournment of the House was the ongoing impasse between the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association and American Sugar Refining/Belize Sugar Industries Limited. The Association last month wrote the millers announcing that while it supports the investment of twenty-two million dollars for production of direct consumption and value-added sugars at the Tower Hill factory, it wants several amendments to the existing commercial agreement and a chance to negotiate same before the start of the next crop season. A.S.R./B.S.I. maintains that it is not in favor of such negotiations at such a delicate time for the industry, and that if there is a decision to opt out of the agreement to pursue negotiations next January, it may cause farmers not to be able to deliver cane. The association has threatened legal action if that becomes true. Leader of the Opposition John Briceño has met both sides and says it will take a government commitment to ensure that the crop starts on time this year.


John Briceño

John Briceño, Leader of the Opposition

“Madam Speaker, the sugar industry continues to be one of the most important industries in this country. It directly impacts over fifteen thousand Belizeans in the north, and it indirectly affects the life of every citizen in both the Corozal and Orange Walk Districts and has a direct impact on the entire country. Last year in 2015-2016 sugar crop, the industry brought in a hundred and seventeen million dollars; in 2016-2017 it seems we are going to bring a hundred and thirty-seven-point three million dollars. And what is important to me Madam Speaker, that there still seems to be goodwill on both sides: both the Belize Sugar Cane Famers Association and A.S.R./B.S.I. They both want a vibrant and strong sugar industry. But now what we need, Madam Speaker, is a responsible government, a government that is willing to roll up their sleeves and prepare to work with both B.S.I. and the cane farmers to come up with an agreement that is fair to both sides. I could have come here to this honorable House and make a grand political statement about what is taking place. But today I am here as a canero, Madam Speaker; I am here as a norteno, I am here as a Belizean. And that is why I am asking the Prime Minister as the leader of this government and the leader of the country, to see how we can resolve this as quickly as possible; ASAP. We on this side, Madam Speaker, we in the P.U.P., we stand ready to help.”

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