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Jul 24, 2013

Rosewood again but for how much?

Forestry Minister Lisel Alamilla has publicly burned rosewood, declared an amnesty which benefitted illegal exporters and then disclosed a deal which saw those illegal exporters getting back their rosewood. That deal supposedly involved exporters selling the rosewood and splitting the proceeds half/half with G.O.B. Condemnation notwithstanding, the deal was struck and the matter blew over. But now Alamilla is back in the public spotlight.  The news broke last Friday that far from a fifty/fifty split, the exporters paid G.O.B. only fifteen thousand dollars per container of rosewood. To get the sense of this outrage, you’d have to understand that each container has a market value of about two hundred thousand dollars. So can Minister Alamilla seek sanctuary behind the walls of Cabinet on this one? Well, it appears not, since Foreign Minister and Attorney General, Wilfred Elrington, says to his recollection the matter was never raised in Cabinet. Mike Rudon has been following the rosewood trail and has the story.

 

Mike Rudon, Reporting

By now Forestry Minister Lisel Alamilla probably wishes that she’d never seen rosewood, or even heard the word rosewood. She’s taken a pounding on every aspect of it along with the very powerful Deputy Prime Minister Gaspar Vega who allegedly has a very heavy hand in the matter. Because of forestry decisions, the Deputy Prime Minister’s brother, the largest exporter of rosewood in Belize, was handed back confiscated rosewood during the so-called amnesty. And with this amazing and disgusting revelation of the fifteen thousand dollar per container rosewood giveaway, all fingers are pointing to the very senior, very powerful Vega, even as the public spotlight is focused on Minister Lisel Alamilla.

 

Lisel Alamilla

Lisel Alamilla, Forestry Minister

“We had to negotiate a price based on what we heard people are making. We did not go…we heard all types of figures about what a container fetches and it varied rarely. Everyone that came in had a different figure that they were telling us. And it just got to a point where we had to say, you know what, just get this material out. just pay us our share, a fair share, and then export your material and let’s move on with other business in the forest department.”

 

Reporter

“Wouldn’t it have been more precise to say show me your invoice that you have to use for the shipping purposes and then we can determine what my pound of flitches is?”

 

Lisel Alamilla

“No I didn’t go into that level with it.”

 

Reporter

“No? So how do you ensure that you are getting fifty percent?”

 

Lisel Alamilla

“I’m telling you I negotiated a price.”

 

Reporter

“So what’s that price?”

 

Lisel Alamilla

“Fifteen thousand per container.”

 

Reporter

“Belize dollars?”

 

Lisel Alamilla

“Belize dollars per container.”

 

While Alamilla walked away, the issue is not going away. Today Attorney General and very senior member of Cabinet Wilfred Elrington told us that it was his understanding that government would have been handling the sale of rosewood, and he definitely does not recall Cabinetdiscussing or agreeing to any set figure per container.

 

Wilfred Elrington

Wilfred Elrington, Attorney General

“I think the Cabinet had decided that it would be sold and that government would take responsibility for the collection and sale of the rosewood and that the people who had been involved would have been compensated. But it is not my understanding that any figure had been set by the Cabinet at all. That’s not my recollection.”

 

Mike Rudon

“Back then what the Minister had explained was the exporters would have been given back the rosewood and they would deal with the sale because Minister Alamilla said, you know what, we’re getting different figures and we can’t figure out how much the rosewood costs, so we’ll basically trust these people to sell the rosewood and give us what they feel is half…”

 

Wilfred Elrington

“That aspect of it I’m not aware of. It’s her ministry and if that is what she did I’m not privy to that.”

 

And while Minister Alamilla may not have needed Cabinet approval, the fifteen thousand dollar figure agreed on is, to put it mildly, eyebrow-raising.

 

Reporter

“In terms of fifteen thousand, because that is official. She revealed that government ended up selling the rosewood for fifteen thousand per container when the value of it coming from out her ministry, which I verified, is two hundred and sixteen thousand dollars. What’s your comment on that?”

 

Wilfred Elrington

“Well clearly if in fact the rosewood is valued at two hundred plus thousand dollars that would be a gross undervalue. I don’t understand why anybody would want to do that.”

 

Reporter

“Is this something, if you can go back and verify this…is this something that you would be willing to revisit, to bring up to look at?”

 

Wilfred Elrington

“The issue? Maybe I would ask about it. As a matter of fact I will try to find out what has actually happened. I can’t say because I was not at any Cabinet meeting what that was discussed at all. But it is not my recollection that at any Cabinet we had agreed that a figure would have been put on the price of a container. That is not my recollection at all.”

 

We arrived at our figures because each standard container holds nine thousand board feet of rosewood. The market value is twenty-four dollars per board foot. That gives us a total market value per container of two hundred and sixteen thousand dollars, of which government got fifteen thousand. Mike Rudon for News Five.

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10 Responses for “Rosewood again but for how much?”

  1. Concern says:

    Its long pass time for Lisel to be fired. She was supposed to be the champion of the people and good governance, but have failed miserably. Lisel now owes the government and people of Belize hundreds of thousands of dollars, maybe millions, by the decisions she made, and everyday she stay there as a minister, is slap in the face of the Belizean people. What a disappointment this woman turned out to be, and to think she still have time to heap more pain on the people by deliberately trying to fool us when she spoke about an effigy. How much longer must we bear the pain of having her there, before the PM realize he has to move her.

  2. Loyla Tzul says:

    They believe that we Belizeans are stupid or living in the skies and don’t know what has happened. For sure a bunch of crooks has ended up with big $$$$ in their pockets!!!!!! i knew this would be the outcome!!!!!!! out with the bandits in this government!!!!!!!!! freedom to the people………

  3. Loyla Tzul says:

    They believe that we Belizeans are stupid or living in the skies and don’t know what has happened. For sure a bunch of crooks has ended up with big $$$$ in their pockets!!!!!! i knew this would be the outcome!!!!!!! out with the bandits in this government!!!!!!!!! freedom to the people………

  4. Loyla Tzul says:

    They believe that we Belizeans are stupid or living in the skies and don’t know what has happened. For sure a bunch of crooks has ended up with big $$$$ in their pockets!!!!!! i knew this would be the outcome!!!!!!! out with the bandits in this government!!!!!!!!! freedom to the people………

  5. ME says:

    Well, well, well. I always believed that Alamilla was a fake. I am beginning to take a different look on the UDP administration. From destroying the maya mounds, high handed deals with exotic woods amongst others, we are really in trouble, I mean really in trouble. Here comes a fresh person in the ministry and u hear all these shady things going on. See folks, Belize is too small, in population that is. Almost every one knows everyone and what yo do in the dark comes out in the light. I want to believe there are lots of other cans filled to the brim with worms. IF DA NOH ONE DA DI NEX. WE NEED A FRESH NEW PARTY, BUT AGAIN DIS PERSON IN DIS NEWS DA WAH FRESH ONE ON DI POLITICAL SCENE. IS THERE ANY HOPE FOR BELIZE??????

  6. Mark says:

    The people of Toledo were only getting $4 per board foot….

  7. aldo says:

    it is these comments and channel visions that has this country screwed up. does anyone really think anyone will pay 24 dollars a foot for lumber. geez this is wood not gold. that is probably full retail value. I am not saying this to justify the udp but get real dont imagine things that do not exist.

  8. ranier says:

    corruption,corruption,corruption,dean barrow said he will chop up corrution with a machet with 2 files,i dont’ tink he knows wat a machet is,lol after all he must chop up his head too,he is the leader and he is covering allll the corruptionssssssssss.

  9. Giovanni de la Fuente says:

    Lisel Alamilla.Please be fortright with the Belizean people.Presently my head is spinning when I do the math and see how potential revenue has been forefeited .Am I so stupid that I fail to see the whole picture or are u hiding something ?

  10. Citizen says:

    50% of over $200,000.00 is over a hundred thousand dollars. Can Lisel tell the Belizean public why we only got roughly 16% instead of the promised 50%. The problem here is that 16% have shorted the government of over $85,000.00 on each container sold, which our country need . Can Lisel tell us if she will pay the rest from her pocket? This is totally un-accepted and the silence is deafening! Vega we know you have a hand in this, and made Lisel into a wimp!

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