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Sep 28, 2012

Senators discuss ASR concession

In the House of Representatives on Wednesday, both the leader of the Opposition, Francis Fonseca and the Fort George Area representative, Said Musa, trashed Minister Godwin Hulse for yielding to a package of tax exemptions that the government is providing to Belize Sugar Industries as part of a sale to American Sugar Refinery. Hulse, who is a minister by virtue of his appointment as a senator, also sits on the board of B.S.I. According to the opposition, there is a conflict of interest and Hulse should otherwise be occupied with the shenanigans in his Immigration Ministry. This morning, in a longwinded and impassioned statement, Hulse replied in kind from the Senate floor when the Sugar Industry and Cogeneration Project bill came up for ratification.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

In the House of Representatives, the Leader of the Opposition and Fort George Area Representative both took shots at Minister Godwin Hulse. At the start of the senate meeting today, the Leader of Government Business responded to the opposition’s claims that there is a conflict with his appointment on the Board.

 

Godwin Hulse

Senator Godwin Hulse, Leader of Government Business

“The idea was to support and that is why I said they can now get on with the business of growing cane with confidence and selling it to the factory. That is the business they are engaged in. It was never and I can never see how it could be condescending. Mister President, he said that, “he wanted to carry a brief for American Sugar Refining, but we are not surprised because the minister is also a member of the B.S.I. Board.” Yes, Mister President, the whole world knows that. I have been a member for fifteen years—through thick, through thin, through ups, through downs. I’ve worked effectively long before we talked about cogeneration when many members on the board was saying it time to get out of sugar; it is time to diversify; sugar was failing. This Minister of government today, also has a contract, I am told, hearsay, with B.S.I. for the sale of sugar. Yes, Mister President and colleagues, I’ve had that long before I was a minister of government; public knowledge. We began to sell rice, sugar, beans and flour below the control price without ration to all who have bought at that store. And I am here to tell you, Mister President, I have no idea how it is run because I put it in the hands of my daughter and her son and her husband.”

 

Collet Montejo

Collet Montejo, P.U.P. Senator

“Many individuals can’t get sugar as we speak and yes I listened as explanation was given in relation to sugar going across the border. But it is not a rumor anymore. As a matter of fact the last shipment of sugar that was intercepted by Guatemalan authorities indicated that it was closely related to a minister of government; whose name was mentioned by the driver as the individual sending the sugar. So, to stand in this honorable house and create this scenario as if though hey, hey, hey—no, no, no. Let’s be real with the Belizean people. Many sacks, tons and tons of sugar is going into Guatemala and it appears that even though it sounds as if though it should be illegal, these things are passing right through our Belize customs, going into Guatemala and creating a shortfall for many of us in the West. It is still unclear to me and I guess to many of our Belizeans what hat my learned colleague was actually wearing when this deal was struck. It is like B.S.I. or government—it is still fairly unclear.”

 

But the matter in front of the senate was with regards to the passing of the Sugar Industry and Cogeneration Project Bill. While several senators supported the bailout for the sugar industry, they had concerns.

 

Collet Montejo

“We understand that the industry needs to be bailed out; nobody is against that. It would be retarded to go against bailing out the industry. But it is also important and the farmers are saying, create a level playing field. Give us some of these opportunities that’s being given to ASR for us to continue to move forward.”

 

Noel Leslie

Rev. Fr. Noel Leslie, Senator for the Churches

“We must make sure that we are not taken for a ride down the road. Past experiences should ever make us be on guard to ensure that we are the winners and not the losers. Mister President, it’s good to give incentives and to grant concessions, but I think there are some concessions that should be more carefully studied.”

 

Mark Lizarraga

Mark Lizarraga, Senator for Business Sector

“The business community in principle supports especially investment that will provide long-term sustainable returns for the investor and Belize. What concerns us is that the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association is not fully in support of this bill. As we know, the cane farmers are, of course, necessary and a vital part of this industry for it to move forward.”

 

Senator Hulse says there was consultation with the farmers and repeated that they should be focused on cane production.

 

Godwin Hulse

“2011, they came on the scene and first they were not interested at all—they said we have to do due diligence, we have to do this, we don’t like the payment arrangements (sixty-five – thirty-five) blah blah blah. And we negotiated, negotiated, negotiated and ultimately they decided that this could work. They did thorough due diligence, engineering, accounting, everything. And that brought us to this point. They have come to Belize; they have met with cane farmers. I sat in the meeting when Mister Aban, the Chairman, and Mister Fred Ortega and Mister Oscar Alonso and all the leaders of the Cane Farmers Association sat in a meeting in the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry Conference Room on Coney Drive across from the table with ASR Representatives: Armando Tabarnia, the Chairman, Ricardo Lima, Mister Jonathan Bamberger, the Prime Minsiter was there, honorable Gaspar Vega, DPM was there; I was there, the honorable Hugo Patt was there. And the room was open for every single question. And Mister Aban shed his tears and said thank god. And then I hear they were not consulted? I begin to check if I have all-timers. ASR told the cane farmers, told Mister Aban, Mister Ortega, Mister Alonzo and all the other colleagues that were there, including Mister Cervantes; that they will raise the price on closing to four twenty five a ton Euros which will bring ninety Euros a ton more into the country for the price of sugar and they will keep that through to 2015. The famers will get two-thirds of that price—do the math—it is about sixty- dollars a ton of sugar more.”

 

And at 12:40 p.m. the bill was passed in the Senate: nine in favor for the bill, two against and one absent. Duane Moody for News Five.

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12 Responses for “Senators discuss ASR concession”

  1. BELIZEAN says:

    Praise the Lord that this bill went through!!!!! PUP just di mek noise ca de neva come up wid di idea!! Now the econmy will start growing! Hope the cane farmers will be brave enough to start work like real man.

  2. Belize First says:

    Hulse has turned out to be as arrogant as the other udp ministers…he knows everything…he should remember that he is not an elected official and that barrow put him there…not the people….and for him to be acting in this manner….I really feel betrayed by this person….he talks the talks but does not walk the walk…He is a Hypocrite and a two face person.

  3. Rod says:

    Belizean you are truly a moron of the first kind why you no come live tha Belize then you could talk imbasil .

  4. roch says:

    listen to that guy with the pseudonym belizean asking cane farmers to work like real men….I invite u to put on ur boots and go to the canefields and do some work. If u manage to cut a truckload of cane and load it into the truck in one day then I will give u $1000. Thats what canefarmers normally do.

  5. Lucas says:

    MONTEJO, MAN, YOU TOOK THE WORDS OUT OF MY MOUTH. YOU BEAT ME TO THE PUNCH. BUT I CONGRATULATE YOU FOR HAVING THE COJONES TO TELL THE HUSTLER RIGHT INA HIS FACE. HOWEVER. LET ME ADD THAT THE MEXICANS ARE ALSO ON THE ALERT FOR BELIZE SUGAR CROSSING THE HONDO AS CONTRABAND. FIRST WE HAD SAINT BAILEY NOW, WE SAINT HUSTLER LINING HIS POCKET. I UNDERSTAND THAT SOME CHINESE BOUGHT SOME FARMS, I CANNOT BRING THE STATE TO MIND AS I WRITE BUT IT IS SOMEWHERE IN THE NORTH MIDWEST, AND PRESIDENT OBAMA REVOKED SAID SALE. OH!, HOW I WISH SENOR FONSECA WOULD SERVE NOTICE TO THIS AMERICAN COMPANY THAT A PUP GOVT. WILL CANCEL THAT SALE BECAUSE THE SUGAR INDUSTRY WILL BE NATIONALIZED BY A PUP GOVT.

  6. Bear says:

    I don’t like monopolies. Everyone in Belize should be free to sell the fruit of their labor to the highest bidder in free and fair competition. GOB denies that basic right to the cane farmers, and forces them to sell to ASR at ASR’s price, or not at all. THAT IS A KIND OF SLAVERY BY ANOTHER NAME! I thought Belize rejected slavery.

    I don’t like ministers having anything to do with enacting or enforcing laws that will make them profit personally, which appears to be the case here.

    Hulse must resign from BSI or their should be a criminal investigation of the conflict. Maybe both.

  7. Ricky Malthus says:

    No one in his/her right mind is against investments by ASR in the cane industry. It is stupid for anyone to assert that idea. What the cognocenti are against are the unwarranted, illogical economic (fiscal incentives) given to a very rich company whose lawyers and well trained know they have the absolute economic advantage. But we can’t blame them. We offered and they accepted. Why can’t the so-called Economist at BSI see straightaway that fiscal incentives have never worked in any underdeveloped country. This type of incentive never worked with any investor that came to Belize under those auspicies. ASR will be earning mega bucks and there was no need to give them a monopoly and making all current and future producers subservient to this monopoly. Just consider that all production and export must be accomplished through ASR. What is this slavery or freedom of market choice? Go and stay in hell Godwin Hulse, you and your commodities. How many Belizean companies applied for the same license and were refused?

  8. UBelize says:

    In my opinion, Mr. Barrow is the best Leader for Belize in these hard times…We trust in you Mr. Barrow. God Bless!

  9. BZ DAPPA says:

    MONTEJO JAH BLESS YU ENUH STAR !!!

    THERE SHOULD BE A FUNERAL CERMEONY DAY FOR BURNING ßâŧŧȳMALA FLAG IN BELIZE AND MAKE IT A NATIONAL HOLIDAY !!! I WOULD ALSO BUILD A MAXIMUM SECURITY PRISON RIGHT BY THE BORDER SPECIFICALLY FOR ILLEGAL BORDER CROSSING AND SEND ALL OF THEM THERE AND NOT HAVE THEM MIX IN WITH OTHER BELIZEAN INMATES.

  10. Pedro Dolmo says:

    Billy Goat Godwin and his big mouth used to make all kinds of noise against Government like he is ever so righteous and he is right there kissing @$$ now and lap his tail he is the most incompetent Minister I have ever seen

  11. Rod says:

    U are an idiot unbelievable

  12. ceo says:

    Hulse should have had enough sense to recuse himself!

    You may be honest but it is the appearance that will cause the problem.

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