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Dec 22, 2015

Importer Jack Charles Responds to Government Officials on Guyanese Rice

While a consignment of imported rice from Guyana languishes at the port in Big Creek, the back and forth between businessman Jack Charles and the Government of Belize continues.  On Monday, C.E.O. in the Ministry of Agriculture Jose Alpuche, accompanied by Foreign Trade Directorate, Doctor Leroy Almendarez, appeared on Open Your Eyes to discuss the issue of the importation of Guyanese rice, as well as the present state of the local rice industry.  Jack Charles has wasted no time in firing off a release criticizing the government representative for seemingly flip-flopping on his position regarding the bringing in of goods from other CARICOM countries.  According to Charles, he has written the Managing Director of BAHA for a written response on why the rice has not been released.  Additionally, Charles says he has received a call from the Guyana Rice Development Board who will later issue a statement on allegations made by the government officials in respect of subsidies.  For context, here is what C.E.O. Alpuche said during an appearance in Open Your Eyes on Monday morning.


Jose Alpuche

Jose Alpuche, C.E.O., Ministry of Agriculture [File: December 21st, 2015]

“I’ll be very careful about what I say as this matter will, I believe, end up in court. But indeed you do have to obtain a license, a phytosanitary license, before bringing any product into Belize. He did not obtain the phytosanitary license and that’s one of the grounds on which the current importation is being held. Most of our importers know of the fact that Guyanese rice is out there, but most of our importers have quite frankly stayed away from it because they know that it could cause injury to domestic production. We have had this conversation, as Doctor Almendarez said, he had the conversation with the Guyanese also; we’ve had this conversation with the importer here prior to all of this happening. But he has just chosen to still bring it in. Yes, we believe that if that rice lands here, and I will say it, at the dump price at this point in time, it will injure domestic production.”

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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