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Jan 12, 2016

Importer Jack Charles Given Two Weeks to Export Rice

Now turning to the issue of the Guyanese rice….Businessman Jack Charles has until January twenty-seventh to re-export three containers of the rice from Belize.  That is the result of an agreement struck between the proprietor of Xtra House and the Ministry of Agriculture.  This morning, attorneys Michel Chebat and Nigel Hawke, representing Jack Charles and the Government of Belize, respectively, appeared in the Supreme Court.  Their presence before Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin succeeds an injunction granted to the importer a week ago, restraining the Customs and Excise Department from seizing the shipment.  That matter was to have been heard in court today; however, both parties agreed that the consignment of pre-packaged rice will be sent overseas during the next fourteen days.  A letter had been issued to Jack Charles on the same day he had applied for the injunction, informing him of an option to freight the staple elsewhere within the region.  And after brief negotiation, it was decided that a period of two weeks would be allowed for the rice to be shipped to another country.  While several officials, including Agriculture C.E.O. Jose Alpuche and CARICOM Secretary General Irwin LaRocque, have weighed in on the matter, Minister of Social Transformation and Human Development, Anthony ‘Boots’ Martinez has also offered his two cents.


Anthony ‘Boots’ Martinez

Anthony ‘Boots’ Martinez, Minister of Social Transformation & Human Development

“I think two things. One; BAHA hasn’t…you can’t bring it in and then apply for permit; that is one. And I believe that once the rice…I think first of all the inspection of the rice is important because you don’t want rice that is contaminated. I hear the sentiment of the public in terms of giving the rice to charitable organization as opposed to destroying the rice. But I think that there will be need for the relevant authorities to check it and if the rice is qualified, I think that they should be giving it to the relevant authorities. But apart from that, I concur that they should apply for permit before yo do anything.”


Duane Moody

“One of the issues that they are looking at is the fact that if Mister Chawla does go through the proper protocol and is able to bring in the rice, there’s also the issue of the local producers and how it affects them, given the fact that they cannot produce right and sell it at a shelf price that Chawla is actually offering at this time. So, the collapse of the rice industry as well?”


Anthony ‘Boots’ Martinez

“Well I think it is very important for us and for the country, but also too it is a clear warning to us, especially under CSME and so we have to get a little more competitive too.”


Duane Moody

“So you are supporting our local growers?”


Anthony ‘Boots’ Martinez

“I have to support our local growers, but at some point in time there will come a time—I don’t know—especially based on the various treaties around CARICOM and so. But I think there’s provision within the treaty to protect the local market.”


As we reported on Friday, Jack Charles has made a formal request to import ten containers of bulk grain from Guyana. There is no approval so far from BAHA.

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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