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Jan 3, 2014

3 months after sugar industry meltdown, still no word on when production will resume

Today representatives of the eighteen branches of the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association met in Orange Walk. The only item on the agenda for today’s session was a look at the letter sent by B.S.I. on December thirty-first and the formulation of a response. The response will be to invite BSI back to the table, hopefully by Monday and, very importantly, to assure the Prime Minister’s intercession in getting B.S.I. to commit in black and white.  Currently BSCFA’s attorneys are working on a Memorandum of Understanding which should, ideally, be signed by B.S.I., BSCFA and G.O.B.  The reality is that the impasse remains, and both sides seem unable to meet.

FOR VIDEO CLICK HERE: BSCFA UPDATE

Alfredo Ortega, Vice-Chairman, Committee of Management, BSCFA

“We continue with that same mandate that the farmers had put on us and that’s why we are calling B.S.I. again because they sent us a letter on the thirty-first December putting their points forward, so based on that we are calling them again to sit with them this coming week so that we can listen and understand, then we will be calling a general meeting hopefully Sunday the twelfth with the farmers.”

 

Reporter

Alfredo Ortega

“Sir, there hasn’t seemed to be any move on B.S.I.’s part to give any undertaking in writing which is what the BSCFA is asking for. Do you feel, based on what has happened in the past few weeks, and based on B.S.I.’s letter, that B.S.I. is negotiating in good faith and they do intend to pay for bagasse?”

 

Alfredo Ortega

“Well, that is what they have sent in their letter, that they would want to negotiate and that they want the negotiation to go in good faith. We have been asking from ever since that we want this in good faith to go through. The thing is that in their letter it is not clear. They are just calling for a negotiation and a discussion and afterwards they say that it should be without prejudice and that everyone should remain with their legal situation within. We have always been open with them to come to the table to negotiate in favor of the farmers. The situation with this is that they have put their hard ball that they said that bagasse is a waste and they said that there would be no compensation for farmers. In our side we have been telling them come, let us negotiate around the table and let us finalize this thing so that both B.S.I. and the farmers can end up with a win-win situation. Discussion can be done anytime…what we are looking for is something that really demonstrates that yes there will be a payment for bagasse. The thing with them is that they are coming only with discussions and beating around the bush. We want something that is frank and clear that demonstrates that yes…that will happen. The period of time on the quantum we have said, okay, we can work with a different period of time. But what we are looking for is what the farmers have placed on our shoulders. We want something in writing that clearly states that there will be a payment for bagasse.”

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