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Sep 29, 2011

B.S.I. gets extension from ING on large debt

This Saturday would have been the deadline for the Belize Sugar Industries Limited to pay thirty million dollars in debts to ING and FirstCaribbean International Banks. But B.S.I. got a lifeline since that deadline was extended by one year.  The B.S.I. Group is knee deep in debt and last year the industry was on the verge of a breakdown, until government came to the rescue with a ten million dollar bailout loan in November. Back then a memorandum of understanding was signed, in which the government committed to the temporary solution for the financial crisis and the farmers agreed to provide a minimum of six thousand tons of quality cane daily. That MOU between the government, B.S.I. and the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association was penned again on Wednesday, as one of the conditions to the extended term for the ING loan. The chairman of the B.S.C.F.A.’s Committee of Management, Alfredo Ortega, says there are new conditions set by ING and he told News Five today that the association would have liked further modifications to the MOU before Wednesday’s signing.

Alfredo Ortega

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

“According to what was said yesterday by Mr. Montalvo and the Prime Minister, ING postponed and gave one year but with certain conditions. One is the signing of the MOU and the other is an amount of payment to them by B.S.I.  The amount was not said but some payment should be made to them. The prime minister also informed—well, one of the conditions from ING is that the government of Belize doesn’t charge anything from the loan that they gave B.S.I. last year. So it seems to be that the government this year will put on hold the ten million that they loan B.S.I. and also, not even the interest they are saying B.S.I. has the capacity to pay the government of Belize this year.”

Delahnie Bain

“So basically they are focusing on making payments toward the ING loan.”

Alfredo Ortega

“Towards the ING and the other institutions that they have loans with in regards to the BELCOGEN issue and the FirstCaribbean Bank that they also owe in that short term.”

Delahnie Bain

“Can you speak about some of the changes you would have wanted in the MOU?”

Alfredo Ortega

“Last year, there was—based on the signing of the MOU that an added would have been done, a B.S.I. managerial added and it was promised that that information would be circulated to the stakeholders and up to date we were unable to get a hold on that. From what we were told, that hasn’t finished as yet. There were other issues that we were promised also that the Bagasse negotiations would have started between B.S.I. and the B.S.C.F.A. and it didn’t happen. So those are things that we wanted to include within this new MOU so that we can have basic timelines when this should be—or at least when this negotiation should start so that is can reflect during this year that negotiations are ongoing in regards to the benefit to the farmers in the use of bagasse.”

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