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Sep 25, 2012

Cane Farmers Assn. says American Sugar Refinery gets unfair advantage

Up to late this evening, cane farmers were meeting on a proposed bill that goes to the House of Representatives on Wednesday which provides for major tax exemptions and concessions in the sale of Belize Sugar Industries. The Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association got hold of a copy of the Sugar Industry and Cogeneration Project Act, 2012 just twenty-four hours ago and its initial reaction is that the tax exemptions contemplated for B.S.I. creates an unlevel playing field and an unfair disadvantage for farmers.  The bill will exempt B.S.I. and BELCOGEN, which are being purchased by American Sugar Refinery, from income and business tax retroactive to 2008. Government also proposes to remove customs and excise duties and environmental tax for ten years. Thereafter, there will be a partial exemption of eighty percent from January first to December thirty-first, 2013, sixty percent in 2014, forty percent in 2015 and twenty percent in 2016. A fifty percent exemption on stamp duty for security documents is also contemplated and the Bill seeks to give BSI unrestricted right to export raw sugar and molasses for a period of ten years. News Five spoke with Vice Chairman, Alfredo Ortega, via phone this morning. He says that the bill will not promote healthy competition, as a matter of fact, it will be a blow to the already struggling Belizean cane farmers.

 

Alfredo Ortega

Via Phone: Alfredo Ortega, Vice-Chairman, Committee Management, B.S.C.F.A.

“Well, according to the letter that I have seen; the bill that is being circulated, it will give tax and excise exemption for ten years to ASR, to the new company that is purchasing B.S.I.  One of the problems I am having with this is not only that that they are getting the ten years, but, the retroactive point of it that is coming way down to 2008. With that I am not happy because it is something that should have already been in the government coffers or it is part that has been already charged to the workers of B.S.I. and to the sales of sugar as a whole. So, this is the part where I am not glad of it and I know there should be an incentive to any company that is coming into the country and there should be limitation, worse now that we are facing this problem with the super bond and economical crisis. It is true that there should be attractions but not in that huge period of time.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Do you think that it makes the playing field a bit unleveled for the cane farmers?”

 

Via Phone: Alfredo Ortega

“Yes ma’am. It makes it more unleveled because that means that they can handle materials, agrochemicals, much cheaper than us cane farmers. They have their own cane fields and they will be planting more. That is something that will be exempting then with the environmental tax, they will bring in materials cheaper than the farmers. When we, the Belizean farmers must pay and will be forced to pay the environmental tax. When we ask the Government to exempt us from any taxes, they always mention to us that they can level us from the GST and other taxes, but we are forced to pay the environmental tax. So this is something, really, as Vice Chairman of the Committee of Management, to me I am totally against that point.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Okay, so in essence, you are saying that it will be a bit more difficult for you guys to compete?”

 

Via Phone: Alfredo Ortega

“Yes, it will not give a fair competition for us to increase out production because then we will have to pay all the taxes that are being placed on the agrochemicals that are being used by the farmers. And these people will be levied of that entire portion.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Now, Mr. Ortega, I know that you’ve only recently had a chance to see a copy of what will be presented. How is this news settling with the cane farmers?”

 

Via Phone: Alfredo Ortega

“Well, aye. I didn’t get to go around to many cane farmers as yet because I got a copy late yesterday evening. It is out breaking news for us since yesterday and today. Before, we heard that it was the Act that would be passed at the National Assembly, but now it’s not the Act, it’s the income tax and excise tax that will be levied, well, the opportunities that will be granted to ASR. Really, it has taken us at the back door because we didn’t have this information before so that we can pass it on to our farmers. We never consulted in this issue that all of these benefits will be given to ASR.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Okay, now that this has been established, how do the cane farmers, the association, move forward? What’s the next step?”

 

Via Phone: Alfredo Ortega

“Well, really it comes to the hand of the Chairman, Mr. Ramon Aban, to make a move and to present to the nation and the government, the position of the cane farmers. We know that the sugar industry is very vital to the country but on the other hand, we the cane farmers, need that the government look upon us as the agricultural sector and give us at least some relief in problems that we are presently facing and at least give us treatment at the same level.”

 

In a press release today, the People’s United Party, Northern Caucus expressed concern over the bill, which it says will give an unfair advantage to B.S.I. and BELCOGEN over the cane farmers. The Northern Caucus calls for the Bill to be deferred until there has been proper consultation with all stakeholders and that the exemptions also be granted to Belizean cane farmers. As a point of interest and as it relates to the exemption for environmental tax, we found out that as recent as May of this year, the US Environmental Protection Agency, reached a two hundred thousand dollar settlement with ASR over alleged clean air act violations at its Maryland factory. There have also been other settlements for similar violations involving the sugar refinery giant. 

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17 Responses for “Cane Farmers Assn. says American Sugar Refinery gets unfair advantage”

  1. Ricky Malthus says:

    Yes,Belize wants investmentsbut they must be rooted in justice and economic fairplay. Again, iwould like to know, all Belizeans would like to know who in this UDP government is packaging this fiscal incentive which is “giving away the store” to the new owners of BSI. Can we get it right for once? Besides Bowen companies, which other poor Belizean received such and attractive one sided inducement to do business in Belize? Again the poor, unemployed Belizeans are being forced to underwrite the cost of wealthy investor. Barrow and his regime should be flogged at the swing bridge for this stupid debacle.

  2. Ricky Malthus says:

    Sorry,but I have to jump in here again once I found out that Godwin Hulse,the UNTERMENCHEN, is involved. This idiot has benefitted from his Board membership at BSI by receiving unfair advantage all these years. When asked about “level playing field”, he became incensed knowing that the field was always unfair and not level. Tell us Godwin how much you have gained at the expense of the poor suckers paying taxes while you laugh all the to the bank.

  3. Rod says:

    Damm this is just crazy is there anyone I mean anyone in this udp gov. With any kind of brains every thing they touch goes sour I have never seen such an incompetent pm and gov. This country is in for some really really hard times and this pm and his ministers don’t have to worry because they all have their big fat bank accounts in the us but the common people in this country are really going to suffer . Why is their no one in jail for treason for selling passports please channel 5 please follow up on this story find out why no one is in I jail for treason.

  4. Storm says:

    It is totally unfair for GOB to try to handpick winners and losers in business by giving special tax breaks to favorite owners. AND IT SHOULD BE UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

    Here is an alternative approach, which I believe is equitable. Reduce all taxes for all businesses to the same level as offered to ASR.

    When a government can put gangster-murderers on its payroll, it has too much money. GOB has more than enough tax revenue to sustain its LEGITIMATE AND NECESSARY activities, but it taxes more than it needs, TAKES IT FROM US [indirectly we all pay the higher taxes in cost of goods and services], and then GOB spends from its treasure chest stupidly and corruptly.

  5. Uncle Benji says:

    Belizean cane farmers have always been big cry babies. From the days of old man Arsenio Witz to today, our cane farmers do nothing but !@#$%, groan and complain. They all long for the big bonus check, but they want to work less and less.

    Mexicans in Quintana Roo and Yucatan have an ongoing joke about Belizean Cane Farmers that goes something like this:

    “Do not worry about poor sales, because when the Corozlenos Cane Farmers come shopping with their big bonus checks, we can sell them brass for gold, and crap for food.”

    The Americans are going to take over and they will turn BSI into a huge success; and they deserve it. They know how to work without griping.

  6. BELIZEAN says:

    My only comment is this: THE CANE FARMERS WILL GET JOBS NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!! What the hell are they complaining about? This country is ANTI-POSITIVE!! These people need to learn to cope with changes, and for PETES SAKE, a change for the better. The reason they are struggling is because of the sick situation they put themselves in. Why not have some real management so that they can get paid better money for their produce!! Why not let this company have everything at a lower price? This means they save there and are then able to spend more on the company as a whole! Altogether this will bring jobs…isnt this what we want?

  7. Truth says:

    strike strike strike!!!! STOP the company from coming in. At this rate no one can compete with a international company. local cane farmers are being sabotage to the max. Do not ALLOW this trade to happen.. stand up together and if it requires VOTING then by all means Vote!!!!!!!

  8. Roska says:

    SAME STORY….. again and again….
    BIG FISH EAT SMALL FISH!!!!

    have we forgotten the exemptions and “guarantees” the Englishman got with BTL???

    The exemptions BNE got ??

    The exemptions FORTIS got???

    Why is the PUP Northern Cuacus making such a big fuss and they used to do the same thing (or Worse) with the foreign multinational companies…???

    Like always… somebody is getting his hand buttered under the table while the local stakeholders are left out of the party…. Globalization at its Best!!!

  9. roska says:

    Uncle Benji ….. or UNCLE SAM??? didnt get it clear….

    Get your stats right….. Arsenio Witz was never a cane farmer…. he was a merchant!!!… if you had said Noguera… that would have been a different story…

    Seems you dont have the slightest idea about cane farming…. these people get up from 4 in the morning to attend to their cane fields…… they toil the soil under very harsh conditions… I would really like to see you with a machete in hand under this sun…. why do you think CYDP dont even consider sending their “reformed” members to work in the cane industry???? even when cane cutters are scarce???

    Its simply stupid to say cane farmers are lazy….. they may be ignorant and misguided by politicians that only see THEIR gain…..and that has been the main reason the industry (which was for many yeras the breadwinner of belize as a country) is now in a precarious condition now….due to their ignorance… NOT Lazyness….

  10. Lucas says:

    Mr. Hustler replied to channel 7 when asked about the sweet deal; GIVE ME ANOTHER OPTION. Mr. Hustler, the other option is NATIONALIZATION. Yes, change is good but there is no gaurantee that the change taking place is good. Yes, we want to know which law firm is taking care of the legal papers. I would not be surprised if it is WILLIAM AND BARROW. Have you seen a dog vomiting and then eat the same vomit. A cat is a cat and a rabbit is a rabbit. Do not give me a cat and tell me it is a rabbit. Likewise, an accomodation agreement is an accomodation agreement. Please do not tell me it is not. It is not that I am against the accomodation, what pisses me is that baldy complained like a whore when the past administration did what he is doing now. TELL ME ABOUT THE DOG EATING HIS OWN VOMIT. By the way, I heard Hustler threatened the Belize Time with court action if the paper did not take back and apologized for telling about the sweet land deal. I have not heard the Belize time apologizing and I have not heard Hustler sueing for libel?. Maybe it was done in private and in secret.

  11. Jeeboo says:

    NOT ONE OF YOU GETS THE POINT HERE. ASR eats 65 million in loans. They are saving our @$$#$ here. I’m a born Belizean and if I was taking over BSI I would want at least 200 million in incentives, especially if spread out over 10 years and knowing the cry babies I’ll be stuck with

  12. BELIZEAN says:

    I still agree with “UNCLE BENJI” allllllllll the way!!!!!!!!!!! BSI will turn intor succes, if, it gets into the management of the new company, the way we all hope. I personally have spent a lot of time up north, and it is true what benji says. Those guys looooove to thief i tell you. They no wah wurk fi de bred. If this ASR will succeed, these guys will REALLY have to get off their rear and start work like real man! I wish there were 30 companies that would come into Belize, from all over europe and the north america’s. Then we would see development. Why criticize every single move the GOB makes? They are aiming for a great country

  13. Rod says:

    I wonder how many pieces of silver barrow and Jules are getting from this company the blatant corruption never stops while barrow and his ministers get richer the po belizean people go itch out food. When will you people march. Marcha marcha.

  14. BELIZEAN says:

    RIGHT ON IT @JEEBOO…U GOT IT SAID 100% CORRECTO!

  15. Seletar says:

    So, who is ASR? What is the real deal with them and GOB?

  16. Ricky Malthus says:

    @Jeebo and Belizean- All debt assumptions and other expenses/liabilities and projected profits for the ensuing five years are already factored into the Sales Price. There is no need to sweeten the pot by obligating the poor unemployed taxpayer to underwrite the gravy or icing on top. Believe you me that ASR would not be buying if their mgt. were not going to make a profit from the get go, ceteris paribus. They know that anything can change from day to day and they are not going to rely on the fiscal initiatives of the government. The boys in government including Hulse know zilch about this kind of financing arrangement.

  17. jose carlos says:

    It’s obvious that you all don’t know about business. To attract investment we as a country need to give up something in return. If we don’t give concessions no investor will visit Belize. Come on people that is the way it works. By the way Minister Hulse was very clear on who actually gave the concessions in the first place; it was the PUP, so don’t just criticize the UDP government for this. Open your eyes folks and be realistic.

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