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Mar 17, 2016

Citrus Woes, Fruit Payments Trickling In Late

For the past several weeks we have been reporting on a looming cash flow crisis within the citrus industry.  Growers have not been receiving fruit payments from Citrus Products of Belize Limited in a timely manner, consistent with an approved weekly schedule.  So, what’s the reason for the unforeseen delay?  Well, CPBL is awaiting a final decision from Heritage Bank in respect of an application for working capital.  That decision has seemingly taken longer than anticipated, as Heritage Bank is in turn looking forward to approval from Central Bank to make available the remaining funds.  As a result, CPBL has resorted to deferring weekly payouts to growers.  In fact, the company has been drawing down on its own cash flow to meet the necessary disbursements, albeit in a retroactive manner.  It’s an inconvenience that is affecting the ability of small growers to keep their heads above water.  The Belize Citrus Growers Association, in a release issued earlier today, informs that cheques for fruit payroll for March eighth will be available for receipt on Friday.  CPBL, on the other hand, is anxiously awaiting an official response from Heritage Bank.  Each year, the company applies for working capital financing to help bridge the gap as it relates to its expenditure for fruit delivery, processing, storage and other associated expenses.  News Five understands that the application was submitted in December of last year and forwarded to Central Bank in January for final approval.  It has been over five weeks since that submission and authorization remains pending.

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