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Nov 1, 2012

Citrus Growers intend to buy out Banks Holdings shares in C.P.B.L.

The Citrus Growers Association has ended its two days of protest against Citrus Products of Belize Limited and its business partner Banks Holdings of Barbados. The breaking news is that the CGA has met with the government to chart a way forward to buy out Banks shares in C.P.B.L. The government sat down with CGA and local banks on Wednesday to assess the possibility of the deal. It was only days ago that the CGA had its suspicions about the government’s intention when it got hold of an email sent by Alan Slusher, special advisor to the PM, in which Slusher and Jose Alpuche, C.E.O. in the Ministry of Agriculture, entertained the possibility of a dissolution of the Citrus Growers Association. That prompted both the CGA and the Banana Growers Association to call for Slusher and Alpuche’s removal. News Five spoke to Alpuche today and said that there was no conspiracy and implied that the Banana Growers Association never sent out the edict to have him removed.

 

Jose Sanchez

“A of these growers are saying get rid of Jose Alpuche. Let’s respond to that; is that even necessary?”

 

Jose Alpuche, C.E.O. Ministry of Agriculture

“All of which growers?”

 

Jose Sanchez

“The growers from the CGA and now apparently the banana growers…”

 

Jose Alpuche

Jose Alpuche

“I got two texts and I’ll show you them off-camera from the chairman of the Banana Growers Association which said they issued no release and he stated in the text—and I can show you right here. He stated in the text, two text, press release who did that unknown.  B.G.A. position is taking no position—citrus is citrus; banana is banana.”

 

Jose Sanchez

“So you are saying that the text that came from them is fraudulent?”

 

Jose Alpuche

“I’m not saying that; these are texts which I’ve shown you from the general manager of the BGA.”

 

Jose Sanchez

“Okay that’s good to know, but outside of that, the Citrus Growers are saying that you haven’t done enough to get this situation quelled.  Your response?”

 

Jose Alpuche

“Jose, the CGA bought roughly ninety-eight percent of Del ORO in 2002. The CGA sold a minority share in it; they remain with fifty-one percent of that since 2006. From that sale occurred, the industry has been in turmoil. You know it; everybody knows it. It’s been in the news for all the wrong reason. I am now at the ministry for the last couple months, seven months or something like that. I did not make but I’m trying to help resolve what is an extremely difficult issue for the CGA and for the industry as a whole. People have their opinions as to what I do and they are attempting to suggest that there is a conspiracy out there and they are circulating this email which I found rather strange that you guys have not cared to read who all the email was copied to. it wasn’t a communication between myself and Mister Slusher, it was a communication between this very EDC council of the business forum that happened I think it was the twelfth of February this year. So I don’t know where or how in an open communication among members of the EDC which included some citrus growers that they are suggesting that there is some conspiracy there. I believe they have their reasons why they are doing that, but look; I really don’t want to dwell on that. Let me dwell on the positive. Yesterday afternoon we had an excellent meeting with the Deputy Prime Minister and the CGA leadership. They agreed that they would end their protest action and we would go back to the table—the dialogue that was started last Wednesday by the Deputy Prime Minister and all the stakeholders. They shared with us their vision of the industry going forward which entails them reacquiring the shares that they had sold. Government has in the past publicly stated and it was reiterated yesterday by the Deputy Prime Minister that government is in support of such a move as long as the CGA can put the commercial financing in place.”

 

Jose Sanchez

“Has there been any communication with Banks Holdings to see if they would accept a buyout?”

 

Jose Alpuche

“They have assured us that Banks is willing to sell. We are aware that Banks has expressed an interest to sell, but for the details of that I would prefer if you speak to someone from the CGA. But as I said, let’s dwell on the positive right now and how we go forward.”

 

News Five placed calls to both Citrus Growers Association and the Banana Growers Association. Apparently Alpuche may have spoken to the factory manager of the BGA who was not aware of the support for the CGA. On the other hand, Tony Zabaneh, Chairman of the Banana Growers Association says the BGA indeed sent out the press release supporting CGA and called for the removal of the C.E.O. and that he sticks by the BGA’s release.

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1 Response for “Citrus Growers intend to buy out Banks Holdings shares in C.P.B.L.”

  1. Storm says:

    Having GOB borrow more money to lend to CGA to buy out the Barbados majority may not be the best resolution. It is like putting a little bandage on something bleeding from a hundred wounds.

    The Citrus Act itself is part of the problem, having GOB — in the end, just politicians hoping to get re-elected or get rich — control EVERY aspect of the industry.

    I would like to see a different approach. Let government regulate ONLY safety of the workers and safety of the products, and then let private companies invest their money and make their deals wherever and with whomever they want and compete fairly. Some will succeed, some will not, but overall we will employ more Belizeans, produce more citrus, and prosper more. One of the main effects of the Citrus Act and its broad control is to put a ceiling on success and prevent innovation and entrepreneurship.

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