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Jan 8, 2014

Cane Farmers and B.S.I. meet…will there be a crop season next week?

Belizario Carballo

Tonight there is a development up north where the sugar industry has been at a standstill. And there is light at the end of the sugar-cane crop tunnel, as both B.S.I. and the BSCFA have compromised, if only tentatively, on a way forward. Both parties met today in Orange Walk, and the BSCFA presented as a matter of priority an interim agreement. Not surprisingly, the first point on that agreement is the issue of payment for bagasse. B.S.I., again not surprisingly, balked, stating that majority shareholders ASR would not accept the point as it is written, and there would have to be modifications. So that’s where it all rests…on those modifications. If all goes well, the agreement would be signed by Monday and the crop season could get underway by Thursday. The clock is ticking and time is running out and both parties are hopeful that the interim agreement paves the way for a crop season to start next week. B.S.I.’s Belizario Carballo says that B.S.I. has promised the revised interim agreement by this Thursday.

FOR VIDEO CLICK HERE: BSCFA UPDATE

Belizario Carballo, Financial Controller, B.S.I.

“I think that we had a very fruitful and positive meeting. I think we are in a way have established a very positive basis on which we can move ahead. We have some tentative agreements in terms of how we can move forward with the start of crop and at the same time start the process of concluding the negotiations for a new agreement including the negotiations for the payment for bagasse. I think there is a clear understanding of how that can occur. The BSCFA is going to be taking this basis and this position to a meeting with their membership on Sunday. I think that they are planning to have that meeting on Sunday and if it works out the way that we are all hoping that it will, we have a tentative meeting planned for Monday which will essentially be to establish and to formalize that basis and to agree on a date for the start of crop. So today, we didn’t agree on a date for the start of crop, but we are hopeful that we can do so on Monday.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“What are the terms that were proposed in this particular meeting?”

 

Belizario Carballo

“There really are no new terms. Essentially, at the last meeting, the BSCFA had asked us to clarify our position with respect to the negotiations for the payment of bagasse. That is what we did in a letter to the on the thirty-first of December. They had requested this meeting for us to discuss that letter and to agree for the basis to move forward with the start of crop and that is what we achieved.”

 

Reporter

“Is there something from B.S.I. that will compromise itself in paying for this? Are you saying that in this new agreement that will be proposed to the cane farmers on Sunday?”

 

Belizario Carballo

“No it is a matter of clarification that B.S.I. is committed and B.S.I. has documented its position in writing in terms of its commitment in terms of this matter. It was just a matter of today discussing that, clarifying it and establishing the basis for moving ahead. We all, what i think we achieved today, is that both sides expressed mutual interests to getting on with the crop and I think that that is hopeful what will drive us. We know that the conditions aren’t ideal; we know that we will be starting the crop under very difficult road conditions, but clearly we have to start and time is not in our favor. And certainly we are hopeful that we can start the crop in a short period of time. We have tentatively been discussing the possibility of starting the sixteenth of January, next week Thursday and hopefully we will be able to agree on that.”

 

Reporter

“So what has been the financial loss to B.S.I. because of the delay?”

 

Belizario Carballo

“Well if we start on the sixteenth of January and assuming that we will have a natural end date because we are assuming that we won’t be able to extend the crop to accommodate for the delay in the start of crop—because the rains can come any time after the start of June. Last year, in fact, the rains came in the last week of May, which is a bit unusual, but traditionally the rains come in June. But assuming that they do come say that we can push ahead and do two weeks in June, we are looking at perhaps milling a million—perhaps a little bit more—tons of cane, which is already short of the one point two million tons of cane that was projected is available for this crop. And that difference in terms of tonnage, we are looking at a difference in sugar production from and hundred and twenty thousand tons to a hundred and ten thousand tons. So it is a decrease of ten thousand tons of sugar for this crop. And in terms of value that is close to ten million dollars Belize.”

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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