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Nov 3, 2011

Factory now taking early oranges

On Wednesday in the Pomona Valley, citrus growers were irate that oranges were not being accepted by the CPBL. Later in the day, that decision was reversed and the factory opened up for early orange deliveries. The contention between the Citrus Growers Association and the Citrus Products of Belize Limited has been relentless. The CGA’s Henry Anderson on Wednesday levied charges against the CPBL. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

Isani Cayetano Reporting

Citrus Products of Belize Ltd., following an outpour of concerns by growers who have complained angrily about the company’s decision not to accept early variety fruits, has given the go ahead for its factory to resume processing oranges come November seventh.  The decision comes on the heels of what can be attributed to government intervention to avert further financial losses that citrus growers have been incurring since August.  According to Chief Executive Officer Henry Anderson, the problem which stems from the Citrus Growers Association’s rocky relationship with its subsidiary is primarily one that has to do with control of the company.

Henry Anderson

Henry Anderson, C.E.O., Citrus Growers Association

“The issue that has been happening here essentially goes around the economics of what has come out after the investment agreement okay.  The investment agreement is a binding agreement but we have issues with the governance of the company.  The board is not meeting as it should, for example, we try to get a meeting on October fourteenth, we tried to get one on the twenty-fourth of October [and] we couldn’t because the Banks Holdings directors basically said that they have other business elsewhere and they were not able to come to Belize.  We are saying but wait a minute, this is the beginning of the year, you need to have the finances in place, you need to approve budget.  Every year you have an October board meeting, how come you won’t plan to come to one?”

PM Barrow, during his quarterly update on Wednesday, maintains that the issue between CPBL and its owners is a private matter.

Dean Barrow

On the other hand, citrus is a national industry which contributes significantly to the major export earnings of the country.

Dean Barrow

“The Citrus Growers Association is the majority owner of CPBL, but the Banks Holdings people, who are the minority shareholders, have a veto power and therefore CPBL does not dance to the tune of the CGA and clearly there’s a divide between, now you’re telling me, both the CGA and even the second citrus association, there joint position and that of the C.E.O. Dr. Canton.  As I said it’s private, we can’t do anything but the minister was dispatched to speak to them and to say, “man what is going on?”

Beyond the now resolved issue of earlies being delivered to the factory, Anderson told News Five that CPBL’s management has been dragging its feet on the company’s financial paperwork.  The situation, he said, has resulted in formal requests being made by CGA’s attorney.

Henry Anderson

“There’s also a lot of banking stuff going on in the company.  I won’t get into the details of it but I will share with you that [CPBL’s] management has brought certain things to the board and [has] said, “sign this by tomorrow” and then we say well what is it you need us to sign.  We need to see the budgets, the cash forecast for the company so we understand the implication of what it is you’re asking us to sign.”

Anderson also accuses the CPBL of being behind in presenting its budget for the new fiscal year.

Henry Anderson

“Every year CPBL has gotten their budget approved in October or a draft prepared by October, okay.  We have an email dated September twenty-third where we’re told in there by management that they have prepared a draft budget and share it with an accounting firm that was doing an assessment of the company.  So we’re being told things as directors that we know are not true, okay, and that‘s the biggest issue we have with CPBL right now and that‘s not an accident.”

A meeting has been scheduled with CPBL’s C.E.O. Dr. Henry Canton for Friday to get his side of the story. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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