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May 16, 2011

Sugar shortage in Belize because of export market

As we reported last week, though produced locally, sugar has become a scarce commodity on grocery store shelves across the country.  However, the two weeks shortage cannot be attributed to a lack of production by Belize Sugar Industries Limited. Instead, the Tower Hill factory has stepped up production considerably, churning out an additional thousand tons of sugar during the current crop season to supply the local demand.  According to Alfredo Ortega of the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association, more sugar has been made available for domestic use despite the fact that it is being illegally shipped to neighboring Mexico and Guatemala by wholesale distributors.  News Five spoke with Ortega by phone today and he told us that the border agencies can play a role in a solution to the smuggling.

Voice of: Alfredo Ortega, Chairman, Committee of Management, B.S.C.F.A.

Alfredo Ortega

“Well presently the sugar scarcity is because of the sugar being smuggled out of Belize.  In regards to the production of sugar BSI is producing sugar, even more than what was produced last year for local consumption.  According to Mr. John Gillett, we had a meeting on Wednesday last week that they have sold already one thousand tons more than last year around this same time.  But the problem with the scarcity of sugar with regards to some grocery shops is because most of the sugar is being smuggled out of Belize.  And those people that have the concession of buying the sugar directly from B.S.I. they are the ones that are not supplying these grocery shops with the amount they should have been supplying these grocery stores.  Mostly instead they are shipping our sugar out of our borders. The only people we can rely on is the Customs Department or our security forces to stop the smuggling of sugar out of Belize because as businesspeople we cannot stop the businessmen from doing those types of activities.  What has happened and is [currently] going on is that the price of sugar is three to four times higher out of our borders than what is being sold here in Belize.”

Isani Cayetano

“How do we deal with this issue locally?  I know this has created quite a bit of a problem for business owners who need to use sugar in the production of their different juices, for instance, and other products?”

Alfredo Ortega

“Well I think that it would be good that they go to B.S.I. and present that they are businesspeople so that they can buy their sugar directly from B.S.I. instead of awaiting from providers that they usually have.”

Several businesses including bakeries and others which consume sugar to manufacture pastries, ideals and fruit juices have had to downsize their operations significantly in the wake of its scarcity.  News Five again made an attempt to contact Roque Mai at the Belize Marketing & Development Corporation for comment on the matter but we were told once again that he was unavailable.

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8 Responses for “Sugar shortage in Belize because of export market”

  1. Earl Grey says:

    SURPRISED??????????………………………….. IT’S THE SAME THING HAPPENING WITH SEAFOOD

  2. GEORGE ALAMILLA says:

    I DON’T UNDERSTAND THIS.WE HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO SELL MORE SUGAR TO THE EXPORT MARKET SUCH AS MEXICO AND GUATEMALA AND WE WANT TO STOP IT AT THE BORDER.WHAT MENTALITY IS THIS.DO THEY KNOW THAT FOREIGN EXCHANGE EARNINGS IS WHAT CREATES REAL EARNINGS.INTERNAL TAXATION IS MONEY TAKEN FROM THE PEOPLE.GOODS PRODUCED FOR THE FOREIGN MARKET IS THE REAL MONEY MAKER,SO WHY PREVENT IT,WELL SUFFICE TO SAY,IT IS THIRD WORLD MENTALITY.

  3. joe says:

    Is it true that the libertad factory in the corozal district is opening for production ?

  4. BTDT says:

    George, if the sugar is being smuggled out of the country what makes you think they are paying taxes? These smugglers are robbing you and the country!

  5. javier solis says:

    Sugar smuggled accross the borders benefits no-one. We must know that BSI and Farmers subsidize the cost of sugar to Belizeans, at 40 cents/lb at BSI gate. Now they are being forced to subsidize the sumgglers and the neighbors. What should be done is to ask the licenced sugar agents for signed invoices of sugar sold to stores. If they cannot reconcile the amount of sugar sold to stores with that which they purchased at BSI, then they are not sold anymore, and their licence revoked.

  6. BZNinCALI says:

    Well said javier solis. When capitalism only benefit a few, we create a society that works for no one. If the people working to generate the sugar cannot find or afford that same sugar they put in their tea to give them the energy they need to work, we have just given a few more people in our society another reason to be pissed off & defy our laws since the message is that they are simply suggestions, not rules that will be enforced. If the greedy exporters are willing to watch their own people suffer more than they already are, they should not be allowed to profit,

  7. Compliment says:

    Amen to that Javier Solis

  8. john saldivar says:

    javier, cabinet today authorised the establishment of such a mechanism (not exactly requiring a licence but requiring the purchaser to justify purchase with receipts of sales to local retailers). to be implemented by BSI.

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