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Aug 9, 2011

Cane Farmers want to keep B.S.I. in Belizean hands and say Banco Atlantida is not the only option

Banco Atlantida of Honduras is negotiating a buy-out deal of the Belize sugar industries to the tune of ninety million dollars, which will include paying off thirty million dollars in loans by B.S.I. to the ING and FirstCaribbean International Banks. At first blush the deal may sound sweet but to farmers toiling the industry, it’s an arrangement that will bring no relief and essentially put the industry regressively in the control of non-Belizeans. Abi Mai, a vocal cane farmer, advanced a plea for government intervention this morning.

Abi Mai, Cane Farmer

Abi Mai

“The prime minister has been saying and he’s said it over and over if we do not accept this Banco Atlantida deal in September, then the industry will collapse. We are saying no, we are saying we do not believe that all avenues have been explored. We are saying to government, listen why can you—and I recall this William and you will recall too—when he said that the lights will go out. Remember? B.E.L. has a huge debt with Comision Federal and if we don’t pay the lights will go out. Well, there was significant government intervention at that time. If I can recall, the prime minister was on an airplane the following day to meet with the president of Mexico, not president of Comision Federal; the president of Mexico because he had to intervene, the lights were going out. Now we’re saying the industry is going to collapse. Now, can you now as a government go to ING who is demanding payment from B.S.I. of twenty million dollars—go to them and say listen, give me a break man, give me one year. I will provide to you a sovereign guarantee so bring down your weapon. Let’s negotiate, give me time, one year or two years so that I can restructure the industry, restructure the management and I can refinance my loan. We are convinced that B.S.I. is a profitable business. They’re in a good business. But if you give me time with government intervention, we can surely fix this thing then you will allow the opportunity for other people, not only cane farmers but other Belizeans that want to invest in the industry so that we can maintain the majority shares in Belizean hands as what the prime minister has been campaigning about, nationalization.”

Abi Mai was joined on Open Your Eyes by Servulo Baeza, a former Minister of government who dealt with the sugar industry. They said that Banco Atlantida is not the only option on the table. In their estimation, if the deal is sealed, the bank will be getting majority shares for twenty million dollars, which is far below the worth of BSI and BELCOGEN.

Abi Mai, Cane Farmer

“The government took seventy million dollars to buy B.T.L. yoh know from Central Bank and from Social Security. As it stands right now, I think the last figures we saw was that the Central Bank had more than four hundred million dollars in deposits. Now social Security has in deposits more than a hundred and sixty million dollars.”

Servulo Baeza, Cane Farmer

“So there are other options. What we’re saying is that there are other options that can lead to the industry being a viable industry and for it still to remain in Belizean hands.”

Abi Mai

“And it’s not free; it’s an investment.”

Servulo Baeza

Servulo Baeza

“And if you look at the proposal by Banco Atlantida, in reality, they will get majority shares for a mere twenty million dollars; for a mere twenty million dollars which B.S.I., BELCOGEN and we’re worth much more than that. They are dangling ninety million in front of the prime minister and he is certainly going for it, but when you look at the breakdown, they are talking about twenty million for ING for equity swap; which is just paying off the loan and that by itself will have them become majority shareholder. They are talking about twenty-five million to invest in B.S.I. to increase capacity; that is over a period of ten years.”

Abi Mai

“So you won’t see that money right away.”

Servulo Baeza

“And that will suit them. I mean they will already be owners. They are talking about twenty million to invest in the field; again that is for them. That is for the bank itself. They are talking about twenty million to lend farmers through IDB, which the government will have to give a sovereign guarantee for that; again, that’s over a period of time. So basically, you’re talking about Banco Atlantida becoming the majority shareholder for B.S.I. for a mere twenty million dollars.”

The deal with Banco Atlantida should be wrapped up by the end of September. It doesn’t leave much time for the farmers to secure financing.

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11 Responses for “Cane Farmers want to keep B.S.I. in Belizean hands and say Banco Atlantida is not the only option”

  1. Lucas says:

    I am some-what perturb with the lukewarm PUP intervention in this matter. The PUP should in no uncertain terms make it clear to the Honduran Bank THAT A PUP GOVT WILL NATIONALIZE BSI AND THAT ANY AGREEMENTS MADE BY THIS PRESENT GOVT. AND THE BANK WILL NOT BE HONOURED BY A PUP GOVT.

  2. Rod says:

    You no see barrow say all Spanish people stupid and he no k whey happen to the Spanish people in this country he say all a unu stupid he is a bid prejudice bigot that’s hates anyone who is not black so unu betta do whey unu could do Fu unu self barrow dice que todos ustedes son estupidos y el Odia todos Los Latinos .

  3. REGGIE says:

    YOU GUYS MUST STAND UP FOR YOUR RIGHTS.PM DON’T SEE WHERE IS FAMILY CAN MAKE MONEY FROM THIS DEAL.SO HE WOULD LOVE FOR YOU ALL TO SELL OUT .THEN HE WILL TAKE IT BACK FROM THE HONDURAS COMPANY.AND GET IS FAMILY LAWYERS INVOLVE TO MAKE SOME MONEY.HE DON’T CARE ABOUT THE MAYA PEOPLE IN THE SOUTH OR THE SPANISH PEOPLE IN THE NORTH.YOU SEE HOW HE TREAT THE MINISTER FROM O.W. BECAUSE HE TALK OUT.DON’T SELL OUT THE COMPANY LET HIM GET MONEY FOR SSB & CENTRAL BANK. HIS DAY OF JUDGEMENT IS COMING.

  4. Dirty sugar!!!! says:

    Firstly, years ago the cane farmers were told about the need of the Core Sampler to test quality of the cane. They did not want the Core Sampler – so it was taken down- waste of money.

    Secondly, for some time now (several years) the sugar that is being sold in the city and arround the country has been of poor quality (very, very dirty).

    Whats up with the Cane Farmers Association? And what happen to “quality control” — Belize Bureau of Standards? Health Department —- How long will you guys allow BSI to be selling the Belizean public dirty sugar? Belize Marketing Board — it is a disgrace that your department is distributing dirty sugar to the Belizean Public!!!!!!!!

    I just wonder if the dirty sugar could be connected to the many Kidney problem cases that we have in Belize?

  5. Orange Walk South says:

    Mr. Abelardo Mai, You have to stop being a puppet for the Briceno’s if you want to be my next representative. So far you are not visiting your PUP people and Let me Tell you Mr. Chendo Urbina in a very few weeks has done a greater job than you in terms of Public Relations with the entire Orange Walk South. PLease Focus on your area if you want to keep your People. I’ll be honest, young people in my area are not worried about color anymore but see the person personality to decide who will be their next leader. Stop hiding in the Tower Hill Briceno’s farm and get to work.

  6. mark Pech says:

    Mr. Abelardo Mai, You have to stop being a puppet for the Briceno’s if you want to be my next representative. So far you are not visiting your PUP people and Let me Tell you Mr. Chendo Urbina in a very few weeks has done a greater job than you in terms of Public Relations with the entire Orange Walk South. PLease Focus on your area if you want to keep your People. I’ll be honest, young people in my area are not worried about color anymore but see the person personality to decide who will be their next leader. Stop hiding in the Tower Hill Briceno’s farm and get to work Sir.

  7. rod says:

    you are right lucas where is the pup gov. so many oportunities to show leadership and they are mute wake up pup wake up and as for you cane farmers you no hear the pm say unu stupid and he couldnt care less about unu because unu tha pania and he think all a unu stupid el dice que todos los latinos son estupidos y no le importa que les pase marcha marcha en este gobierno inutil fuera barrow fuera.

  8. Belizean says:

    At Mark Pech…..PPPFFFTTTTT…!! Chendo can do in 5 years what PUP didnt do in 100 years and i still wouldnt vote for that opportunistic .@$…!!! Now geh d sense..Chendo spend lot da Central and everybody know he have to mek back all a dat through opportunism..so go on and think abi mai no d do enough…its not about who is doing enough, its really about who will do what for themselves when they are in power…so you shouldnt vote Chendo just like Central didnt…

  9. Carrie says:

    barrow no care cause he no give one damn about the north, he di fight fi untilities nationalization cause there he cud put his family two work for huge money but he know that in the north he can’t do that plus he no understand noting bout cane so he no care and weh pablo marin de?, he da wah next barrow puppet, like de street dog that have no owner, when barrow seh jump, pablo ask “how high master” he is a big joke for the north, neva do anyting for his people, truly a waste to this government…farmers stand in solidarity for your bread and butter and knock-down whosoever gets in your way to prosperity……long live los caneros

  10. Belizean says:

    Los latinos somos mas en esta pais, y tenemos que unirnos contra este …. traicionero..fuer con barro fuera a gappi y estos ladrones..

  11. Ricky Malthus says:

    Rod and Lucas are correct. Barrow hates the fact that Belize is predominantly Latino and he has advocated ever since his St Michael’s schooldays. I lauded the President of Chamber of Commerce for her stand against the Ninth Amendment and chided the PUPs for their anemic and too delayed support against it. How ever, The Caneros and the BSI workers must be given the right of first refusal to buy the sugar factory. These people combined have more than enough collateral , physical plant and other assets plus future production (futures contract) to buy BSI. They will be able to create a vertical and horizontal efficient manufacturing company , increased production,train and retrain all workers and managers to effect economies and technologies but they would have to kick out Barrow and his inefficient stoolies. there are ways to buyout BSI.

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