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Dec 9, 2013

GOB and ASR/BSI Meet – No Resolution to Impasse Reached!

With only six days to go for the scheduled opening of the sugar crop, there is no resolution yet or in sight, for that matter, in the standoff between cane farmers and the Belize Sugar Industries. This afternoon, Prime Minister Dean Barrow, at the request of the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association, met with representatives from BSI and its majority shareholder American Sugar Refinery at the Radisson Fort George. The issue on the table is payment to cane-farmers for the use of bagasse, and the situation is time-sensitive. ASR has maintained that they want to get BSCFA to the table. Just as strenuously, they maintain that farmers did not invest in Belcogen so should not reap any benefits…and besides, they claim, bagasse is not a by-product anyway. The BSCFA also wants to come to the table, but they insist that an agreement on payment for bagasse be the appetizer, main course and dessert. Both sides maintain their stances and the Prime Minister is the man in the middle. The meeting this afternoon started at two and ended almost two hours after. Mike Rudon was at the Radisson and has the story.

 

Mike Rudon, Reporting

This afternoon Prime Minister Dean Barrow, flanked by the Minister of Natural Resources and Agriculture and representatives of the Sugar Industry Control Board, emerged from a two hour long meeting to report that ASR has been dealt government’s hand, and the next move is theirs.

 

Dean Barrow, Prime Minister

Dean Barrow

“We’ve put our position to ASR. They will now reflect on that, consult among themselves and give us an answer in the shortest possible time, without actually saying tomorrow and the day after and they will get back to us in the shortest possible time. They will give us an answer on our position and you know what our position is. So until they give us that answer I can’t say what the mind set is. They have listened to us we had a frank discussion but I don’t even know if those that are hear can make the decision on their own. I believe there are other principals with whom they must speak before they give a final answer.”

 

According to PM Barrow, both sides are fully aware that the matter on the table is time sensitive, and that a decision needs to be made sooner rather than later. The deadline date had previously been set at December fifteenth, but that is only six days away, and the reality is that it’s not going to happen by then.

 

Dean Barrow

“I’m not sure about December 15th, if you talk to the experts people like the Deputy and Minister Pat who is a cane farmer. They may tell you that it may be a vein hope. The experts will tell you about Sucrose content and what the weather conditions have done. So I don’t think December 15th is on anyway you look at it. I can’t tell you that it’s not like the people have said to us they said no. They merely tell us they hear everything we say and they must get together with their other principals and they will give us an answer. I can’t tell you that and it is unfair for you to say that they are head strong. Let’s wait and see what answer they will give us.”

 

For now, it’s just a matter of playing the waiting game while the clock keeps ticking. There’s not much else government can do at this point, and the cane-farmers have made their position clear. So it’s all up to ASR to break the impasse, or not.

 

Dean Barrow

“ASR is a global company, the people that are hear are extremely high level, but I don’t think that they can make a decision without the input of their board. There are other principals. If there are 10 key people, they couldn’t send the whole ten. So they need to consult with other key people just as high ranking as they are. Once they, it depends on what they say, there will certainly have to be another meeting between us and the other farmers. Because I will have to convey the ASR position to the farmers in order, depending on what that position is depending if there could be a possibility on starting the crop. So I am afraid it is a bit of a complicated dance, there are several steps, but we just have to proceed, we just have to press on.”

 

While the PM and his representatives came out of the meeting at four, ASR and BSI reps remained inside for an extended meeting. We managed to get hold of ASR’s Vice-President Ricardo Lima for a brief moment, and while he didn’t say much, he didn’t seem to be a happy camper.

 

Ricardo Lima

Ricardo Lima, Vice President, ASR

“We continue to try to find ways to bring the farmers back to the table. That basically what I wanted to say.”

 

According to Prime Minister Barrow, they did not expect a firm decision out of the meeting, so there is no disappointment, at least not just yet. Mike Rudon for News Five.

 

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3 Responses for “GOB and ASR/BSI Meet – No Resolution to Impasse Reached!”

  1. Concerned Belizean says:

    I am appalled, that Belizeans will always be the same. They see a little bit of money being made and then the want a piece of it, if not all of it without working for it. This shows nothing else but laziness. BSI when it was BSI invested BSI’s Money into Belcogen, that was 30million dollars, then their was the cost for repairs and servicing over the years that was never disclosed. Now ASR managed to invest a respectable amount of Money into the industry to purchase their share of the company and agreed to invest further to upgrade the industry and also as a subsidiary of the former BSI, upgraded Belcogen to getting running. The Bagasse, the farmers are crying about is a waste of the purchase of the sugar cane that is sold to BSI. Now lets think about it, if BSI was not using to generate current for sale, then it would be a waste that BSI would have to deal with. How would the farmers take it if BSI told them “we will purchase your sugar cane but you have to come back for your bagasse”? I believe they world not like that idea!

  2. erectus maximus says:

    Shut the place down for the season. Farmers want to be unreasonable (and BOTH political parties support that BS) let the company be unreasonable as well. They own the place and BSI is small potatoes in their greater organization.

  3. farmer says:

    BSI should concede that the bagasse of their cane is the property of the cane farmers and give them a timeline of 3 days to remove it after milling at their own expense and after that it becomes the property of BSI. The intervention of our faithful politicians over the last 40 years could be counted as sin that is causing this issue. Let the politicians continue to act like Mugabe and we will certainly see Zimbalize in the Yucatan pennisula, after all our passports don`t mean much! we might as well have a new passport logo!

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