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May 29, 2018

Trade Minister: Santander Jumped the Gun on Sugar Sales

Santander, the Spanish multinational operating in Valley of Peace, is again in hot water, this time for illegally producing and introducing plantation white sugar into the local retail market.  Tonight, the Comptroller of Customs, Colin Griffith, has instructed customs posts in Corozal, Cayo and Orange Walk to confiscate the Santander sugar on the premises where they are found. It means that Santander won’t be able to sell or move the sugar until further notice. Cane farmers in the north are up in arms, despite the decision taken by government to confiscate up to seven hundred and fifty metric tons of grain from shops across the three districts, which had been sold to one distributor.  That quantum represents roughly eight percent of the annual tonnage produced by A.S.R./B.S.I. for local consumption.  According to the terms of the Export Processing Zone certificate that Santander had been granted, the production of mill white sugar without the expressed permission of government is prohibited.  The Ministry of Trade and Investment caught wind of the matter almost two and a half weeks ago and, upon confirming that Santander sugar was indeed on the open market, instructed the company to cease and desist.  That order was ignored in the face of clear guidelines set out by which Santander should have sought consideration.  Following today’s lengthy Cabinet meeting, News Five spoke with Minister of State Tracey Panton who shared firsthand government’s stance on the issue.

 

Tracey Panton

Tracey Panton, Minister of State, Trade & Investment

“The position is that it was done illegally.  Santander got an EPZ certificate in 2014 and that certificate allowed them to produce molasses and raw sugar for export.  In May of this year, the first week of May, they submitted an application asking if they could amend their certificate of compliance to include plantation white sugar.  That matter has to go before the EPZ committee for consideration and then onto Cabinet for further ratification.  That has not been done as yet.  It was on the tenth of May, I believe, we were alerted that there was plantation white sugar produced by Santander on the market and so the ministry wrote them on the eleventh of May, after we had confirmed that yes there was sugar in the marketplace in the north, that they had to cease and desist.  There is a procedure, they can apply for consideration for a waiver to have their products on the local market to come into the customs territory, so to speak, but that request for a waiver had not been submitted by Santander.  They responded later that day to indicate that they would be sending a request for a waiver which was done, the letter is dated on the eighteenth of May, but we got that letter at the ministry at the beginning, on the twenty-fifth.  And so the ministry officials, our CEO and our Director of Investment have met with the representatives of Santander to acknowledge that we now have the waiver request, but there’s a process, right.  We have to consult with key stakeholders.  We have to consult with ASR/BSI, we have to consult with the farmers.  We have to consult with the relevant government agencies which includes the Ministry of Agriculture, the Customs Department to see if this request has any merit, if there is a need, there is a shortage of plantation white in the market; if there is a need for greater supply, if there is a greater demand.  But that is now going to be assessed.”

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1 Response for “Trade Minister: Santander Jumped the Gun on Sugar Sales”

  1. Fungus says:

    What a shame, this justice system is as good as the imigration system, when will the US Ban belize and impose sanctions to this corrupted gov..this country full of poverty and illegal gang members from other countries taking up jobs and free space, and the poor and silly bz people just sit back and take the buccutte. Time to lower the gun license cost so we could hunt those murders on the street,, time to purge belize

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