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Jun 6, 2018

Santander Faces Fine for EPZ Violations

Santander will be fined – that’s what Minister Tracy Panton said today. For the past two weeks and the last time we spoke with Panton, it wasn’t clear if the company would be sanctioned for the violation of its Export Processing Zone license when it put sugar for sale on the domestic market. On May thirty-first, she told us a decision was not final because there were a number of meetings being held to determine a way forward. Today, she answered straight up when we asked if the company will face consequences for their actions. According to Panton, her ministry is listening to all concerns, including the cane associations and the farmers. She says that the C.E.O. was in the north today to ensure that everyone is heard on this matter. What is not so clear at this time is if Santander’s application for a waiver will be approved. Here’s what Panton had to say.

 

Tracy Panton

Tracey Panton, Minister of State, Trade and Investment

“The Government has not sided at all with the multi-national. I don’t know where that sentiment comes from. There is a process that we need to take, so that we can gather all the relevant information about what happened and how it happened against the perpetrator or the person who did wrong. Santander had no permission or permit or waiver from the Government to sell any of its products on the local market and it violated its EPZ status when it did it. And so the EPZ Committee will meet and so the evidence is obviously glaring against Santander, but we have to allow the process to take place.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Going back to the violation committed by Santander, will they be fined? There was a clear violation, I imagine there are repercussions or punishment, so to speak, that they must face. Will they be fined?”

 

Tracey Panton

“There are repercussions. They will be fined. There will be other sanctions against Santander, but I need to give the Committee the room and time to do its work. We have to be fair, and Santander is fully aware, as you read in their press release, that they violated conditions of doing business in Belize and that will be dealt with the strictest letter of the law.”

 

Reporter

“What effect, are you able to say, this violation of the EPZ, will that have or can play into the final approval of application that is in front of the EPZ Committee?”

 

Tracey Panton

“You see, I can’t speak for the EPZ Committee. I know that the Ministry itself will submit its recommendations based on its findings and clearly there is a violation.  A very serious violation and clearly that will be taken into account by the committee.”

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