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Mar 24, 2020

Corozal Free Zone Grinds to a Halt

The coronavirus crisis continues to have far-reaching financial consequences in all sectors of the economy, including the commercial free zone in Corozal.  While most of the attention has been focused on the tourism industry, today business at the CFZ has ground to a complete halt and hundreds of workers employed by those businesses have been placed on their two-week paid vacation.  But that is only to tide them over until a definitive position has been taken insofar as their employment status and their compensation.  According to Anil Hotchandani, Vice President of the Corozal Free Zone, packages need to be worked out in order to ensure that everyone is duly taken care of.


On the Phone: Anil Hotchandani, Vice Chairman, Corozal Free Zone

“It’s been a very challenging time for us.  We were monitoring the situation very closely and we were counting our blessings that Belize didn’t have a case until the PM announced the first case and at that time we had to move and [put] measures in place.  Actually, we were a bit confused as to how to go about it because this is a first for everyone, but I think the closure of the border by the government directly led to the closure of the Corozal Free Zone until further notice, until things start to normalize and things get safer.  So that’s where we are with this.”


Isani Cayetano

“Where are you in respect of the employees, the hundreds or workers who are employed at the commercial free zone?  Have you been able to work out something with them in terms of the next couple weeks or what have you?”


On the Phone: Anil Hotchandani

“You know, my company is one of the largest companies employing over eighty Belizeans and there are many other companies.  I am not sure whether there was time for people to work out packages or any arrangements, but what most of the companies have done, in my opinion, is that many of the workers were having their holiday pay, paid vacation which was coming due, two weeks.  From what I am aware, a lot of the companies enacted that so the workers could go on their paid vacation and that’s what has been done.  Now when it comes to the other employees, I think we are going to have to work along with them.  We are waiting to see what relief government is planning for the employees as well.  Understand that we have zero income, all the businesses are shut down and there is nothing happening and so this is where we are.”

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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