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Oct 26, 2022

Deputy U.D.P Leader, Hugo Patt: Striking a Commercial Agreement for Disputing Parties in Sugar Impasse Will Be Difficult

On Tuesday, we heard the issues that the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association and the American Sugar Refinery/Belize Sugar Industries face just weeks before a new sugar crop is due to open. Both sides have been at a stalemate in solving their problems as partners in the sugar industry and are due to sign an agreement governing how their expenses and revenues should be split. But neither side wants to budge. The B.S.C.F.A. contends that it has no confidence in the figures that the company has presented and demands more documents to conduct more in-depth analyses.  They are also convinced that they are entitled to more out of the collective pie that they share in sugar sales. A.S.R./B.S.I., meanwhile, is saying that it has shared all the relevant documents and there simply isn’t anything more that can be had from the sales. On Tuesday, A.S.R/B.S.I’s Director of Finance, Shawn Chavarria told News Five that the financial statements show that BelCoGen, which supplies energy to the national grid, is operating at a loss because the tariff it receives does not include any value for the bi-product, bagasse. The problems that the disputing parties have laid out are nothing new. In fact, Deputy U.D.P Leader Hugo Patt, who is also a cane farmer, told News Five today, successive governments have outlived these problems that need to be fixed.


Hugo Patt

Hugo Patt, Former Deputy Prime Minister

“The commercial agreement between the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association and A.S.R/B.S.I., dates back to, if I’m not mistaken, 2002. What the farmers are saying is look, you promised us that you will have a reduction in expenses of X dollars. When they moved on to Big Creek additional expenses were added, so all of this is just adding up. I think that at this point in time we have to look at this commercial agreement – it has to be a revamping of everything, getting out of that concept. I don’t know at this point in time that this profit-sharing agreement is one that we want to entertain. If you ask my personal opinion as a cane farmer, I have always been of the opinion that if I’m selling a ton of cane, I want to be paid for that cane at the time that I deliver that cane. While that cane goes into the factory, it’s weighed, then whatever happens thereafter it is the responsibility of the millers. All I want to know is that I am going to be paid X dollars for my particular ton of cane but that is not what we have at this point in time. A commercial agreement is one where you will have opposing parties coming to find an even quantum. That is going to be difficult. You’re talking about the millers fighting their own economic interests and the farmers fighting for their own economic interests. So it has to come to a point where both would have to meet and obviously, the government plays a very important role in this. It is not only the B.S.C.F.A. directly and indirectly, we’re talking about some fifty thousand people that will be affected if we don’t get the issue solved.”

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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